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Facebook removes anti-vaccine ‘fake news’ in Israel, government says

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Jerusalem: The Ministry of Justice said on Sunday that as the government sought to strengthen its support for the plan, Facebook cancelled the lie about spreading the coronavirus vaccine in Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Saturday) became the first person in Israel to be vaccinated. Opinion polls show that about two-thirds of the public want to follow suit.

The Ministry of Justice stated that, upon request, Facebook divided it into four groups last weekend and distributed text, photos and videos with “intentionally and deliberately misleading the coronavirus vaccine.”

The Ministry of Health said in a statement that such “fake news” includes arguments that vaccines will be used to implant government tracking chips in recipients, poison them to kill people or conduct medical experiments on them.

A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed that four Hebrew-speaking organizations have been banned as part of the company’s policy against “spreading false information about vaccines.”

Israeli officials say the country has enough vaccines on order by year’s end to protect the most vulnerable 20% of the population and then lift some coronavirus curbs, but worry that turnout might be dampened if people get false information about the innoculations.

Israel began administering vaccines to medical staff on Sunday. At Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, dozens of doctors and nurses danced as they prepared to receive their injections.

Next in line are elderly Israelis or those in high-risk groups. The wider adult population is slated to get shots in early 2021.

With a population of 9 million, Israel has logged 373,368 coronavirus cases and 3,074 deaths. It has imposed two national lockdowns and is mulling new curbs on high-contagion areas. 

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