Facebook steps up fight against vaccine misinformation

Leslie Hanson
March 11, 2019

Bickert said the company also removed related targeting options, like "vaccine controversies".

Facebook says it will work to provide users more information from expert organizations.

As Pakistan closes in on eradicating polio, Prime Minister Imran Khan's office has urged the country's telecoms regulator to take action against misinformation spread on social media discouraging vaccination against it and other diseases.

The social networking giant will start downranking groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccination on both News Feed and its search function.

There has been a widespread measles outbreak in the United States and elsewhere, especially with measles vaccination having being linked to causing autism, which of course has been disproved with numerous studies demonstrating the falsity of this belief.

Facebook reportedly would take steps to lower the rankings of anti-vaccine groups and Pages so that they appear less in recommendations, predictions, in News Feed and Search, and even in Instagram Explore or hashtag pages.

"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", Ethan Lindenberger said.

Last month, in a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also addressed Facebook's shortcomings in counteracting the dissemination of inaccurate facts.

It won't be promoted through ads or recommendations, and Facebook will make it less visual in searches.

An investigation by the Guardian newspaper found that Facebook search results for information about vaccines were "dominated by anti-vaccination propaganda". While overall vaccination rates remain high in the USA according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of kids under two who haven't received any vaccines is growing.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director at the CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said it's "those that are unvaccinated that put us all at risk".

Health officials traced the outbreak in Washington to an unvaccinated worldwide traveler.

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 risky hoaxes.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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