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Facebook will make anti-vaccine content less visible

Pages spreading misinformation about vaccines on Facebook and Instagram will be downranked.
AJ Dellinger, @ajdell
March 7, 2019
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Facebook announced today a new plan of action for combatting misinformation surrounding vaccinations. The social networking giant will start by reducing the ranking of groups and Pages that spread false information about vaccines so they appear less often in the Facebook News Feed. On Instagram, it will prevent anti-vaccination content from appearing on Instagram Explore and on hashtag pages.

Facebook's crackdown on anti-vaxxers won't just punish groups that spread the information, it will also make them harder to find. Anti-vaccine groups will be excluded from recommendations and won't come up as predictions when typing in the search bar on Facebook. Advertisements that include misinformation about vaccinations will be rejected, and Facebook is squashing targeted advertising terms like "vaccine controversies."

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. Those organizations have identified hoaxes and common misconceptions when it comes to vaccines, and those will be the standard Facebook uses when determining what groups and Pages to take action against.

Facebook is just the latest social network to crack down on people spreading misinformation about vaccinations. Last month, Pinterest took steps to block anti-vax content from appearing in search results and YouTube started preventing anti-vaccine channels from running ads. Lawmakers have also taken interest in the issue and have started pushing tech companies like Amazon to take action against content that spreads hoaxes about vaccines.

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