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Facebook pledges to fight vaccine misinformation amid mounting criticism

09 March 2019

In an effort to curb anti-vaccination conspiracy theories and misinformation, Facebook announced Thursday it will no longer recommend the offending pages and groups, and will block advertisements that include false content about vaccines.

"Leading global health organizations. have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes", Bikert wrote. While Facebook will not be taking down these anti-vaccine groups and pages, the company will be lowering their rankings and reducing their distribution in the News Feed and Search.

Social media giant Facebook says it will remove groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations on its site. More specifically, if those ad account owners will continue to spread misinformation, Facebook warns it will disable the account. These groups and Pages will not be included in recommendations or in predictions when you type into Search.

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. Additionally, it will also curb vaccine misinformation from Facebook-owned Instagram.

DFR, a small online forensics team of Washington-based Atlantic Council thinktank, has been working with Facebook to enhance the social network's investigations of foreign interference.

Some of the most popular pages that were taken down defended the role of migrants and Muslims in Britain, and highlighted hostile content related to Tommy Robinson, the former leader of far-right extremist group English Defense League, according to a blog by Digital Forensic Research (DFR) Lab.

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. While overall vaccination rates remain high in the USA according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of kids under two who haven't received any vaccines is growing.

In a statement to The Washington Post last month, Facebook said that most anti-vaccination content didn't violate its policies around inciting "real-world harm".

Facebook is moving to halt the spread of misinformation in the form of vaccine hoaxes. Anti-vax posts and pages, however, will remain live. In a letter to US Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the video-sharing service said it has been preventing anti-vaccination videos from appearing in the site's recommendation engine and in search results.

Facebook pledges to fight vaccine misinformation amid mounting criticism