Facebook, Instagram to remove vaccine misinformation content

Henrietta Brewer
March 9, 2019

-Facebook is also rejecting ads that spread wrong information about vaccinations.

In an official statement, Facebook's head of global policy Monika Bickert announced that the company is planning to take action against vaccine hoaxes that have been publicly identified by global health organizations such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Facebook plans on preventing pages and groups that spread misinformation about vaccinations from appearing over people's Facebook News Feeds and in search.

In addition, vaccine misinformation on Instagram will no longer be shown or recommended on hashtag pages or Instagram Explore.

Since both the social networking platforms are heavily used by advertisers, ads found to include fake news on vaccinations would be rejected outright.

Last month, The Daily Beast found almost 150 anti-vaccine advertising spots on Facebook that specifically target women over the age of 25, which is the demographic most likely to have children needing vaccinations.

Facebook is following in the footsteps of other social media platforms attempting to combat anti-vaxxers.

The crack down will also affect Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. "It strikes a balance between expression and amplification".

Facebook isn't removing anti-vaccination content completely. For instance, Facebook made no mention of deleting pages or groups that carry the anti-vaccination content.

The decision follows a Tuesday Senate hearing on how to stop the outbreak of preventable diseases in which an 18-year-old testified that he was immunized against the wishes of his mother, who he said had developed anti-vaccine beliefs through her involvement with various Facebook groups. While some of them are already live, some remain in testing phases.

Facebook, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc have been under pressure from regulators around the globe to fight the spread of misinformation aimed at destabilizing elections by stoking hardline positions or supporting propaganda campaigns.

In February, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., sent letters to the heads of Facebook and Google, which also has been under fire for YouTube's role in promoting misinformation, asking how they plan to protect their users from potentially unsafe hoaxes.

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