Facebook announces plan to fight vaccine misinformation

Alicia Farmer
March 8, 2019

Facebook, the very open platform that would like to be the opposite of that in the near future, announced a big change this week: It will no longer be a dumping grounds for the anti-vaccination conspiracies of a few misinformed clowns. The company will now reduce the rank of Facebook Groups and Pages that spread misinformation.

Beyond that, Facebook is also looking at rejecting ads that include anti-vaccine messages, as well as removing related targeting options. Earlier this week, a teenager from OH who had to inoculate himself testified before the Senate that his anti-vax mother received her information on vaccines exclusively through Facebook. The company is also working on providing "additional context" related to vaccines when users decide to search, visit pages, or join groups related to vaccines. On Instagram, anti-vax posts won't appear on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages.

According to Facebook, it will be leaning on the expertise of the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help determine what is fact and fiction when it comes to vaccines.

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Last month, U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, sent a letter to Facebook and Google, asking them to address the problem because their inaction may have contributed to recent outbreaks of measles in the country.

Anti-vaccination pages are rampant on Facebook, including pages like "Stop Mandatory Vaccination" and "The Truth About Vaccines Docu-Series", which both have over 100,000 followers.

Facebook is following in the footsteps of other social media platforms attempting to combat anti-vaxxers. In February, YouTube said it would remove ads from videos that feature anti-vaccination content.

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