Facebook, Instagram hiding pages that spread ‘vaccine misinformation’

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March 8, 2019
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Facebook is cracking down on pages that spread misinformation as the largest social networking giant recently announced that it’s taking steps against the spread of anti-vaccine information across the platform. This will be done by reducing the distribution of misleading medical advice and relying on vetting from leading global health organizations that “have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes.”

As of now, Facebook plans to give users authoritative information on the controversial topic as stated by Monika Bickert, vice president of Facebook’s global policy management in a statement on Thursday.

“If a group or Page admin posts this vaccine misinformation, we will exclude the entire group or Page from recommendations, reduce these groups and Pages’ distribution in News Feed and Search, and reject ads with this misinformation.” Bickert elaborated.

Moreover, the advertisements that contain false facts about vaccines will be dismissed and removed immediately. More specifically, if those ad account owners will continue to spread misinformation, Facebook warns it will disable the account. Additionally, it will also curb vaccine misinformation from Facebook-owned Instagram.

The decision of Facebook comes to light after a recent Senate hearing on how to stop the outbreak of preventable diseases, where an 18-year-old boy — Ethan Lindenberger, testified that he was immunized against the wishes of his mother. It is said that her mother had developed anti-vaccine beliefs through her involvement with various Facebook groups.

“For certain individuals and organizations that spread this misinformation, they instill fear into the public for their own gain selfishly, and do so knowing that their information is incorrect,” Lindenberger remarked.

A month ago, the U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, D-Calif. a letter to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and addressed Facebook’s shortcomings in counteracting the dispersal of inaccurate facts. In the letter, he passed remarks that Facebook and Instagram, are “surfacing and recommending messages” that demoralize children’s vaccination. He called Facebook a direct threat to public health that counters medical progress.

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