Facebook ‘exploring additional measures’ to tackle anti-vaccination posts

Facebook ‘exploring additional measures’ to tackle anti-vaccination posts

The possible move comes after a rash of measles outbreaks across the world, including in Washington state and the Philippines, where 70 people-mostly children-have already died since the start of the year. Experts believe that aside from the lack of vaccination, which caused the spread of the disease, anti-vaccine movements also are to blame on the said outpour.

The website has become inundated with posts and groups dedicated to "anti-vaxxers", people who are spreading false information about side effects of vaccinations and promoting unfounded alternatives such as Vitamin C. The groups are gaining traction, thanks to social media websites like Facebook and YouTube's recommendation algorithm, which promotes their content on users' news feed or video playlist.

It all started when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, wrote an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai regarding his concern with the technology giants which are authorizing the escalation of anti-vaccine misinformation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) identified vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019. Earlier this month The Guardian reported that Facebook was accepting ads from anti-vaccination groups. "We're now working with outside experts on additional changes that we'll be announcing soon", a representative for the social media giant said Friday.

Meanwhile, The Guardian newspaper said it found that Facebook search results for groups and pages with vaccine information were dominated by anti-vaccine details.

Schiff added in the letter that there is no evidence on the claim regarding dangers of vaccinations which pose a great risk to public health.

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"I was pleased to see YouTube's recent announcement that it will no longer recommend videos that violate its community guidelines, such as medically inaccurate videos, and encourage further action to be taken related to vaccine misinformation".

But people opposed to vaccines have used the social network to spread misinformation in groups where members have to be approved, making it hard for Facebook to police this content, according to The Guardian.

Arthur Caplan, a professor and founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at Nyu Langone Health in NY expressed his support over Facebook's decision to police anti-vaccine messaging.

As an outbreak of measles spreads across the U.S., advertisements promoted by anti-vaccination organization have been targeting pregnant women on Facebook. The passing of the said mandatory vaccination bill infuriated many opposers which led to rallies and protests oustide the State Assembly.

"We think this change strikes a balance between maintaining a platform for free speech and living up to our responsibility to our uses", the company wrote in a blog post.

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