Facebook steps up fight against 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

-Facebook is also rejecting ads that spread wrong information about vaccinations.

To separate fact from fiction, Facebook is using information from the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last month, Facebook removed hundreds of Indonesian accounts, pages and groups from its network after discovering they were linked to an online group accused of spreading hate speech and fake news. The photo- and video-sharing service will no longer show anti-vaxxer content on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages. Facebook is doing its part to limit the reach of misinformation promoting the movement by reducing rankings of groups and Pages that share such misinformation. "If these vaccine hoaxes appear on Facebook, we will take action against them".

"We are exploring ways to share educational information about vaccines when people come across misinformation on this topic", she adds. The company is also working on providing "additional context" related to vaccines when users decide to search, visit pages, or join groups related to vaccines. But despite ample available data some groups continue to lobby against mandatory vaccination, gaining significant traction on social media sites.

Facebook is following in the footsteps of other social media platforms attempting to combat anti-vaxxers.

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Ms Bickert said the social network was also looking into ways of providing more information on the topic to users of Facebook.

An investigation by the Guardian newspaper found that Facebook search results for information about vaccines were "dominated by anti-vaccination propaganda". For instance, Facebook made no mention of deleting pages or groups that carry the anti-vaccination content. While some of them are already live, some remain in testing phases.

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".

The decision of Facebook comes to light after a recent Senate hearing on how to stop the outbreak of preventable diseases, where an 18-year-old boy - Ethan Lindenberger, testified that he was immunized against the wishes of his mother.

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