Facebook to make anti-vaccination content less visible

Facebook is to clamp down on anti-vaccination groups on the site, announcing it will reduce the ranking of pages that “spread misinformation” on the subject.

The social network said it will also reject any adverts it finds include false information on the topic and will not show or recommend any content from Facebook and Instagram it deems to be spreading misinformation.

It comes after criticism of the platform over the way its algorithm highlighted content that promotes anti-vaccination ideas.

Last week the head of NHS England warned “vaccination deniers” were gaining traction on social media as part of a “fake news” movement.

In an official blog post, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management Monika Bickert said: “We are working to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook by reducing its distribution and providing people with authoritative information on the topic.

“Leading global health organisations, such as the World Health Organisation and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes. If these vaccine hoaxes appear on Facebook, we will take action against them.”

The social network previously said it was looking into how it approached the issue in a way that enabled freedom of expression but also supported the safety of users.

Other platforms have also taken action on the subject – YouTube has removed adverts from anti-vaccination videos and Pinterest has taken action to block vaccination searches.

Ms Bickert said the social network was also looking into ways of providing more information on the topic to users of Facebook.

“We also believe in providing people with additional context so they can decide whether to read, share or engage in conversations about information they see on Facebook,” she said.

“We are exploring ways to give people more accurate information from expert organisations about vaccines at the top of results for related searches, on pages discussing the topic, and on invitations to join groups about the topic. We will have an update on this soon.”

In January, a study by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) warned social media was a “breeding ground for misleading information and negative messaging around vaccination” and more action needed to be taken to challenge claims made against vaccines.

- Press Association

More on this topic

Ask Audrey: What's the story with dying your pubes?

Irish people living in US lockdowns and fearing for the lives of their children

Rooskey alternative needed - Be proactive and roll out red carpet

EU sanctions Google again - €1.5bn fine almost meaningless

More in this Section

Sonar sounds cause whales to stop feeding and flee, study finds

Google to challenge games market with launch of Stadia

Apple announces second generation AirPods with wireless charging case

Amazon announces new budget Kindle e-reader


Lifestyle

Everything you need to know about fashion movement #TheYeehawAgenda

Jack B. Yeats work looks to past and future

Ready for the big final? We go behind the scenes on Dancing with Stars

Skinny jeans: The trend that refuses to die

More From The Irish Examiner