Facebook Takes Steps to Reduce Vaccine Misinformation

April 19, 2019
Jill Sederstrom
Volume 163, Issue 6

Facebook plans to reduce the ranking of groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccines.

Facebook is joining the fight against vaccine misinformation.

The social media giant announced it is taking several proactive steps to reduce the spread of misinformation through its social media channel, including reducing the ranking of groups and pages that spread misinformation in the website’s News Feed and Search options.

Monika Bickert, vice president of Global Policy Management for Facebook, said in a statement that groups and pages determined to be spreading misinformation “will not be included in recommendations or in predictions when you type into Search.”

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Facebook also plans to reject any ads promoting misinformation about vaccines and will “take action against” vaccine hoaxes that have been verified as hoaxes by leading health organizations such as the World Health Organization and the CDC.

They plan to do this by excluding any group or page from recommendations if it posts inaccurate information, which would the distribution of the group in the News Feed and Search functions of the site and serve as a deterrent for organizations.

 “We also believe in providing people with additional context so they can decide whether to read, share, or engage in conversations about information they see on Facebook,” Bickert said. “We are exploring ways to give people more accurate information from expert organizations about vaccines at the top of results for related searches, on Pages discussing the topic, and on invitations to join groups about the topic.”

Facebook does not plan to disable personal accounts of people who post misinformation, CNN reported.

The move is an attempt to reduce the spread of inaccurate information about vaccines and their risks to the population.

Arthur Caplan, PhD, head of the Division of Medical Ethics at the New York University School of Medicine in New York City, told CNN he was supportive of the changes announced by the social networking website, but also questioned whether scurrilous and erroneous sites would need to be removed completely to make a significant impact.

The Pew Research Center estimates that about two-thirds of the United States adult population uses Facebook. It found that 43% of Americans report getting their news from the site.

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