Facebook said that it will cut down the reach of anti-vaccination pages on its platform, and also Instagram. Gutting the vaccination misinformation from feeds of its 2.32 billion monthly active users, Facebook’s is the most impactful move yet by any social networking sites that recently faced criticism from journalists and lawmakers for spreading such content.
Facebook will downrank groups and pages spreading such misinformation across both the News Feed and its Search function. It will also block ads promoting anti-vaccination content and will disable accounts of those who attempt to push such ads repeatedly. The social network will also remove those escalating disinformation about vaccinations from Facebook’s recommendation features such as “Groups You should Join”.
The company is also planning to include higher quality and more authoritative information about vaccines in its site, such as “at the top of results for related searches, on Pages discussing the topic, and on invitations to join groups about the topic,” Facebook said. Facebook’s effort to fight vaccine disinformation also extends to Instagram. Facebook “won’t show or recommend content that contains misinformation about vaccinations on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages,” thus effectively hiding such content from public-facing spaces.
The networking giant’s move is timed just as measles is surging in the world. The US is combating the epidemic in New York, Texas, and some under-vaccinated communities in the Pacific north-west. The WHO lists “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the top threats to global health in 2019.
Pinterest had also stopped displaying search results for vaccines entirely, and YouTube decided to remove ads from videos that promote anti-vaccination content.