Facebook, Instagram to limit spread of vaccine misinformation

Facebook has detailed its new strategy to curb the spread of vaccine misinformation on both its primary social media platform as well as Instagram. Broadly, these include efforts to scale back the prominence of (but not outright ban) certain flagged groups, pages and search results, as well as the adoption of a firm stance against advertising content together with false statements concerning vaccination.

“Leading world health organizations, like The World Health Organization and the U.S.A. Centers for disease control and prevention, have in public identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes,” Monika Bickert, VP of global policy management at Facebook, wrote in a news post on the company’s website. “If these vaccine hoaxes appear on Facebook, we’ll take action against them.”

Bickert gave the example of a group or page admin posting inaccurate info concerning vaccination. Once identified, Facebook would cut that group or page from its automated recommendations and limit how usually they’re surfaced among search results or the News Feed. Similarly, the corporate said that it’d not be showing or recommending this type of material through Instagram Explore or hashtag pages.

In the advertising space, Bickert said that any ads including vaccine misinformation are going to be rejected, and that targeting choices associated with the topic have already been removed. Facebook may additionally fully disable ad accounts that are repeat offenders.

“We additionally believe in providing individuals with extra context in order that they can decide whether to browse, share, or interact in conversations concerning info they see on Facebook,” Bickert wrote. “We are exploring ways in which to give individuals additional accurate info from expert organizations concerning vaccines at the top of results for related searches, on Pages discussing the subject, and on invitations to join groups concerning the subject. We’ll have an update on this before long.”

Vaccine-preventable diseases like measles are on the rise, with variety of identified outbreaks across the U.S.A. coinciding with recent information from CDC and academic researchers suggesting a rise in vaccine exemption rates. Many over the years have mentioned how social media platforms can facilitate disseminating misleading health info, with the debate coming to a head this past week during a Senate panel hearing that specifically highlighted the role Facebook has played in the growing public health threat.

A conscious effort by the corporate may limit the spread of such misinformation, and will probably facilitate to limit a broader anti-vaccination movement that’s mostly dependent on debunked links to developmental diseases and an interest in preserving individual liberties at the cost of public health.