Published: Sat, March 09, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Facebook to remove groups, pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations

Facebook to remove groups, pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations

The blog also said that ads carrying vaccine misinformation would be rejected and that Facebook was "exploring ways to share educational information about vaccines when people come across misinformation on this topic".

Facebook says the company will be knocking down recommendations of anti-vax groups in search results and rejecting misinformation ads as well as potentially disabling accounts. Ad accounts that continue to violate company policies may even be disabled.

Instagram is affected as part of the latest crackdown, too - posts that contain misinformation will no longer be displayed on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages.

"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", she said. The social network is taking a series of steps that includes banning related ads and limiting the reach of anti-vaxxer groups and Pages.

After Facebook's Thursday announcement, Schiff struck a cautious note on Twitter, writing, "The ultimate test will be if these measures reduce the spread of anti-vaccine content on their platforms, to the benefit of public health".

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Bickert also mentioned that Facebook has been working with reputable groups from the medical community, like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), to correctly identify vaccine hoaxes floating around the internet.

While the move is welcome news to social media users frustrated with the easy spread of vaccine misinformation, the company is making the move after years of criticism for alleged inaction during which individuals and Facebook groups have been able to spread their misinformation and lies virtually unimpeded.

Facebook reportedly won't remove all anti-vaccination content, however.

One group of scientists recently published a study that found the majority of the most-viewed health stories on Facebook in 2018 were downright fake or contained significant amounts of misleading information. While some of them are already live, some remain in testing phases.

Last month, in a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also addressed Facebook's shortcomings in counteracting the dissemination of inaccurate facts.

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