What just happened? Facebook has become the latest company to clamp down on the spread of misinformation surrounding vaccinations. The social network is taking a series of steps that includes banning related ads and limiting the reach of anti-vaxxer groups and Pages.
Facebook isn’t removing anti-vaccination content completely. The company is reducing the rankings of groups and Pages “that spread misinformation about vaccinations,” which means they won’t show up as much in the news feed and search results. Moreover, they won’t be included in recommendations or predictions when typing in the search bar.
Additionally, ads that include misinformation about vaccines will no longer be allowed on the service, and targeted advertising options such as “vaccine controversies” are being removed. Any ad accounts that continue to ignore the new rules may be terminated.
Facebook-owned Instagram is also receiving some changes over the coming weeks. The photo- and video-sharing service will no longer show anti-vaxxer content on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages.
As well as clamping down on this misinformation, Facebook is exploring ways to share educational data on vaccines when people come across anti-vaxxer content.
It’s important to note that Facebook isn’t hiding or deleting individual anti-vaccination posts; it is only targeting groups, Pages, and ads.
To separate fact from fiction, Facebook is using information from the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The organizations have identified vaccine hoaxes in the past, and Facebook will take action against any that appear on the platform.
Last month, YouTube channels promoting anti-vaccination, alternative and holistic medicine, or other forms of pseudoscience were demonetized and prevented from running ads.
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