Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) will be taking action to combat the spread of vaccine misinformation on its social media platform. The company is planning to take steps to reduce the distribution of misleading medical advice to its users. Vaccine misinformation will also be purged from Instagram, which Facebook owns.
According to Facebook’s announcement, ads that contain false facts about vaccines will be rejected and removed. Ad accounts that continue to spread misinformation will be disabled. In a statement, Monika Bickert, vice president of global policy management, said, “If a group or Page admin posts this vaccine misinformation, we will exclude the entire group or Page from recommendations, reduce these groups and Pages’ distribution in News Feed and Search, and reject ads with this misinformation.”
Facebook said that it would rely on vetting from leading global health organizations that “have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes.” Those global health organizations include the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization recently dubbed “vaccine hesitancy” one of the top global threats of 2019.
There has been widespread pressure to repudiate vaccine misinformation on the social media platform. There are a number of anti-vaccine groups that focus on lobbying against mandatory vaccination. These groups have been gaining significant traction on social media sites. A study was recently published that found the majority of the most-viewed health stories on Facebook in 2018 either contained significant amounts of misleading information or were downright fake.
Scientific and medical communities agree that vaccines are effective and safe in preventing potentially deadly diseases. During a Capitol Hill hearing this week, a Senate panel issued a warning about the public health danger of vaccine misinformation. Misinformation that discourages children’s vaccination have been called a direct threat to public health and a reversal of medical progress. YouTube and Pinterest are also now taking steps to tackle the spread of vaccine misinformation.