Facebook Announces New Steps to Limit the Spread of Vaccine Misinformation

After widespread pressure to repudiate anti-vaccine misinformation on the social media platform Facebook announced on Thursday it's taking several steps to tackle the issue

Facebook will make anti-vaccine content less visible

The company is prioritizing taking action against content that the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has publicly identified as false.

The social media giant will be working to reduce the distribution of misinformation, as well as provide its users with "authoritative information" on the topic.

Facebook plans on preventing pages and groups that spread misinformation about vaccinations from appearing over people's Facebook News Feeds and in search. The efforts will also extend to Instagram, where the company will stop displaying anti-vaccine content on its Explore and hashtag pages. When ad accounts continue to violate policies, Facebook could take further action such as disabling the ad account.

Facebook's crackdown on anti-vaxxers won't just punish groups that spread the information, it will also make them harder to find.

-While doing all this, the firm says it is "exploring ways to share educational information about vaccines when people come across misinformation on this topic".

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In addition, the social network is pulling the plug on ads that attempt to target people interested in "vaccine controversies", Facebook vice president Monika Bickert wrote in a company post on Thursday.

Facebook's new stance also comes as public health officials are struggling to contain a measles outbreak in Clark County, Wash., that has wreaked havoc on the community there. In February, YouTube said it would remove ads from videos that feature anti-vaccination content. However, the spokeswoman said, the users who already belong to the groups or pages will be able to log onto them as usual.

Lindenberger, who famously vaccinated himself against his mother's wishes, spoke to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Tuesday and reiterated Schiff's calls for reliable information - not the type of stuff his mother was reading on social media. In the past couple months, several bad news cycles have pressured the company to reconsider its marketplace-of-ideas approach to the topic: in February, the Guardian reported that anti-vax sources frequently outperform medically accurate information on Facebook.

Facebook is to clamp down on anti-vaccination groups on the site, announcing it will reduce the ranking of pages that "spread misinformation" on the subject.

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