Facebook to target vaccine misinformation

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Facebook says it will also reject ads that include deceptive or false vaccine information. Facebook is partnering with World Health Organization, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others to identify a verifiable vaccine hoax and take them down.

Monika Bickert, the head of global policy management at Facebook, said yesterday that it would reduce the distribution of anti-vaccine content and instead provide people with "educational information" on the subject.

In addition, vaccine misinformation on Instagram will no longer be shown or recommended on hashtag pages or Instagram Explore. These groups and pages will not be included in recommendations or in predictions when you type into search. Ad accounts that continue to violate company policies may even be disabled.

A Facebook spokeswoman told The Post that the company is not removing the pages or the groups because it's trying to strike a balance between "reach and speech". The social network is also going to stop people from targeting things like "vaccine controversies" on its network. Facebook will not entirely take down anti-vaccine posts.

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Facebook had been increasingly criticised in recent times for providing a platform for anti-vaccine content. Congressman Adam Schiff had led the charge, writing a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to forcefully suggest both Instagram and Facebook crack down on misinformation around vaccines."Repetition of information, even if false, can often be mistaken for accuracy", he wrote.

Facebook's new stance also comes as public health officials are struggling to contain a measles outbreak in Clark County, Wash., that has wreaked havoc on the community there. Thursday's announcement from Facebook is an acknowledgement from the company that it's doing something about the anti-vaccination content on its ecosystem. It is said that her mother had developed anti-vaccine beliefs through her involvement with various Facebook groups. However, the spokeswoman said, the users who already belong to the groups or pages will be able to log onto them as usual.

Last year, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority banned a Facebook ad paid for by a US-based anti-vaccination campaign group.

After criticisms that it was allowing anti-vaccination misinformation to flourish and circulate on the platform, Facebook has announced it is taking steps to bury content from anti-vaxxers.