Facebook releases plan to combat spread of vaccine misinformation

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Facebook detailed initiatives to derail the distribution of vaccine misinformation on its social media platform.

In a March 7 company blog post, Facebook Vice President of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert said the social media giant plans to implement the following initiatives:

1. Remove groups and pages that focus on vaccine misinformation from Facebook's search and recommendations features.  

2. Reject advertisements with misinformation about vaccines. The social media platform also removed related targeting options, which help direct ads to audiences based on factors including age, hobbies and probable interests. This will prevent ad postings targeted toward users who may be interested in topics like "vaccine controversies."    

3. Remove misinformation about vaccines from Instagram's explore and hashtag pages. The explore feature showcases individualized content based off the accounts and hashtags the user follows, while hashtag pages allow users to search and view content on the app that pertains to specific topics.  

Additionally, Facebook groups or pages that share vaccine hoaxes, which have been publicly-identified by the World Health Organization and CDC, will be excluded from recommendations and have a reduced presence in news feed and search.

To best share educational vaccine information, Facebook is working on ways to make content from vaccine experts more accessible on the social platform such as bumping it up to the top of users' related searches or pages when they search the topic.

The social media giant has recently faced scrutiny for its efforts, or lack thereof, to curb the spread of anti-vaccine content. Kyle Yasuda, MD, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., have publicly sent letters to Facebook, among other tech giants like Pinterest and Amazon, to express concern over the spread of false vaccine information through online content.

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