'Big tech' takes on anti-vaccination online posts

Google, Facebook and Youtube are among the tech companies becoming more active in stopping the spread of anti-vaccination content online, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Updates from four tech companies:

1. Facebook. Earlier in February, Congressman Adam Schiff issued a report to Google and Facebook detailing concerns that the companies' algorithms promoted anti-vaccination messages. In response to the letter, Facebook said it may remove anti-vaccine content from recommendations such as its "Groups You Should Join" feature.

Facebook has also been criticized following recent measles outbreaks in Washington, New York and Texas. Health experts suggested anti-vaccine groups on the social networking site contributed to the spread of misinformation. Facebook is now, "exploring additional measures to best combat the problem," the company told Bloomberg.

2. Google. Google has introduced various strategies to reduce the spread of misinformation. The tech giant created "knowledge panels" that display authoritative information when medical conditions are searched. 

3. YouTube. Youtube is also collaborating with health experts to enhance its search and recommendations for medical content.

4. Pinterest. Fellow social networking site Pinterest stopped returning search results for vaccination-related terms, according to WSJ. Most of the images shared on Pinterest related to vaccinations warn against them. The search ban is temporary until the company develops a better strategy to vet information.

Back in December 2018, Pinterest blocked numerous accounts that promoted phony cancer treatments. Many of these accounts linked back to third-party websites that were selling non-FDA-approved products.

Pinterest trains human reviewers to vet images before they can be shared on the site. For medical-related images, the reviewers are instructed to rely on information from the World Health Organization, CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics.

Last year, the company decided to block searches for "cancer cures" and "breast cancer cures," according to the WSJ.

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