Facebook launches offensive to combat vaccine misinformation | News | DW | 08.03.2019
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Facebook launches offensive to combat vaccine misinformation

The social media network has announced a series of measures to limit the spread of misinformation about vaccinations. The initiative comes amid a surge in measles cases in the United States and around the world.

Facebook has said groups and pages that publish misinformation about vaccinations will no longer appear in search recommendations or predictions on its site, as part of a plan to tackle the spread of misinformation on the 2.3-billion-member social network.

The social media giant has been under pressure to suppress the spread of misinformation amid a global outbreak of measles attributed in part to parents refusing to vaccinate their children.

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What will Facebook do?

  • The distribution of false information will be reduced
  • Users will instead be provided with authoritative information on vaccines
  • Misleading content will not be included in recommendations or predictions in the search function
  • Groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations will have their rank cut in news feed and searches
  • Misleading content will not be included in recommendations or predictions in the search function
  • Ads that include misinformation about vaccinations will be rejected
  • Instagram Explore or hashtag pages will not show recommended content that contains misinformation about vaccines

 

On Thursday, Facebook said global health organizations such as the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had identified "verifiable vaccine hoaxes." If these vaccine hoaxes are spread on Facebook, action will be taken against them.

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Measles outbreak

Measles is a highly contagious virus that can result in brain damage, mental disability and, in some cases, death.

The spread of misinformation linking the vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella to an increased risk of autism has caused some parents to shun the vaccination.

Numerous scientific studies have debunked a link between the vaccine and autism.  

The World Health Organization has listed "vaccine hesitancy" among its top 10 global health threats for 2019. The UN has warned against "complacency" as the number of measles cases soars.

cw/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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