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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The independent Oversight Board on Thursday upheld Facebook's decision to leave up a post from a medical council in Brazil that claimed lockdowns are ineffective.

The big picture: The board's decision provides insight into how Facebook's removal threshold for content that creates a risk of imminent harm will be applied to posts about COVID-19.

What happened: A state-level medical council in Brazil posted in March 2021 that lockdowns are ineffective and condemned by the World Health Organization and that effective measures of reducing the spread of COVID-19 include social distancing, masks, vaccination and hygiene.

  • The post was viewed 32,000 times and shared about 270 times, but no users reported the content.
  • Facebook left the post up and referred the case to the Oversight Board.

What they found: While the board determined the post contained some inaccurate information, it said keeping the content up was consistent with Facebook policies.

  • The board found the content did not create a risk of "imminent harm," noting that WHO and other health experts had advised the company to remove claims that advocate against health practices like social distancing, but not claims advocating against lockdowns.

Go deeper

24 hours ago - Health

COVID cases, deaths at meat plants were far higher than previously thought

Tyson Foods in Portland, Maine, in 2020. Photo: Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Cases and deaths from COVID-19 among workers at the five largest U.S. meatpacking companies were nearly three times higher than previously thought, according to a memo from the House panel probing the response to the pandemic.

Driving the news: At least 59,000 workers contracted COVID-19 and 269 workers died at Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Cargill, National Beef and Smithfield Foods — which together make up more than 80% of the beef market and 60% of the pork market in the U.S. — according to counts through January of this year.

14 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

Updated 13 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.