Facebook Vows To Quash Anti-Vaccine Misinformation

Faith Castro
March 9, 2019

To separate fact from fiction, Facebook is using information from the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a blog post, Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global policy management, said the company is "working to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook by reducing its distribution and providing people with authoritative information on the topic". In it, he expressed concern that Facebook and Instagram, which the company also owns, are "surfacing and recommending messages" that discourage children's vaccination.

Hiding content that contains misinformation about vaccines on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages.

Finding and rejecting ads that include misinformation.

"For ad accounts that continue to violate our policies, we may take further action, such as disabling the ad account", Bickert said. Moreover, they won't be included in recommendations or predictions when typing in the search bar. We've also removed related targeting options, like "vaccine controversies". Ideally, Facebook would take an even tougher stance on such content, but it does show that Facebook is becoming more willing to take action against such material, as opposed to the "hands off" approach its leaned on in the past.

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It comes after criticism of the platform over the way its algorithm highlighted content that promotes anti-vaccination ideas.

Ms Bickert said the social network was also looking into ways of providing more information on the topic to users of Facebook. While some of them are already live, some remain in testing phases. In a letter to US Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the video-sharing service said it has been preventing anti-vaccination videos from appearing in the site's recommendation engine and in search results.

Lindenberger, who famously vaccinated himself against his mother's wishes, spoke to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Tuesday and reiterated Schiff's calls for reliable information - not the type of stuff his mother was reading on social media.

Years after promising to combat misinformation on its platform, Facebook has announced new efforts to curb the spread of false and misleading information about vaccines.

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