Facebook to curb social media propaganda against vaccines

Maricruz Casares
Marcha 11, 2019

The company will instead provide users with "authoritative information" on the topic of vaccinations.

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.

Along with expelling anti-vaccine related targeting options such as "vaccine controversies", Facebook would also reject advertisements that propagate false info on vaccinations, and even step up to disable the violating accounts.

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 said Thursday it will take its cue from global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes.

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Remove groups and pages that focus on vaccine misinformation from Facebook's search and recommendations features.

Facebook should ban posts by so-called anti-vaxxers in order to protect children against measles and other contagious diseases, says a British Columbia mother who launched a petition urging parents to start home schooling if they're against immunization.

"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", said Monika Bickert of Facebook. The company also said that it will be downranking results which are related to anti-vaccination. The World Health Organization recently dubbed "vaccine hesitancy" one of the top global threats of 2019. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. But despite ample available data some groups continue to lobby against mandatory vaccination, gaining significant traction on social media sites.

The push from Facebook also arrives right after multiple research papers published across journals and shared on social media platforms, discouraged polio vaccination.

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.

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