Facebook to get tougher on anti-vaxers

Article Image

Facebook will soon take action against misinformation about vaccines, according to a Facebook representative.Public health experts have pointed finger...

Posted: Feb 26, 2019 7:37 AM

Facebook will soon take action against misinformation about vaccines, according to a Facebook representative.

Public health experts have pointed fingers at social media platforms, saying that false claims that vaccines cause autism and other diseases have frightened parents into refusing to vaccinate, resulting in the current measles outbreak that started in Washington state.

The Facebook representative, who asked not to be named, said the social media giant is working with health experts to decide what changes to make and considering a combination of approaches to handle vaccine misinformation. These approaches wouldn't take misinformation off Facebook but rather make it less prominent.

For example, groups that promote vaccine misinformation wouldn't show up in the list of groups that Facebook recommends users join. Also, Facebook would make sure that posts containing vaccine misinformation would appear farther down in a user's newsfeed.

Public health and technology experts welcomed the planned changes. "This is good news," said Art Caplan, head of the Division of Medical Ethics at the New York University School of Medicine. "They're incremental steps, but they're heading in the right direction."

Darrell West, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the nonprofit Brookings Institute, agreed. "Facebook is on the side of science," he said. "They're acting in accordance with the scientific consensus."

Facebook is also considering making changes in its advertising policy, according to the representative. A CNN search on Facebook's archived advertisement website found that several groups that promote false information about vaccines are advertising on the site.

Another change would involve putting results with vaccine misinformation farther down when people search for certain terms. This could result in major changes. According to recent CNN searches on Facebook, anti-vaccine groups now show up high on the list of results when the word "vaccine" is searched.

Facebook has been under considerable pressure to do something about the anti-vaccine information on its site; other social media platforms got tough on such content years ago. For example, YouTube doesn't allow ads to appear on videos that promote anti-vaccine content, which means these groups cannot make money through advertising.

Pinterest has the most restrictive rules about vaccine information; users are unable to link to certain sites that have misinformation, among other restrictions.

"We're a place to go to for inspiration, and there's nothing inspiring about harmful content," said Ifeoma Ozoma, Pinterest's policy and social impact manager.

Caplan said that while he welcomes Facebook's changes, he wishes the platform wouldn't stop there. "It may be necessary go even further in terms of pulling scurrilous and erroneous sites down completely," he said.

A First Amendment rights advocate, however, said she thought Facebook had struck the right balance. "They're avoiding censorship, but they're not necessarily recommending it to their readers, and that's probably the best way to go about it," said Lata Nott, executive director of the First Amendment Center at the nonpartisan Freedom Forum Institute.

Huntsville
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 65°
Florence
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 67°
Fayetteville
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 59°
Decatur
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 62°
Scottsboro
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 59°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17952

Reported Deaths: 630
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2239116
Jefferson1837102
Montgomery171040
Tuscaloosa78315
Marshall6939
Franklin5567
Lee54833
Shelby51720
Tallapoosa42765
Butler41118
Chambers35525
Walker3542
Elmore3548
Madison3394
Baldwin2909
Morgan2801
Dallas2723
Etowah25711
DeKalb2483
Lowndes24612
Coffee2361
Sumter2247
Autauga2214
Houston2204
Bullock2095
Pike2030
Colbert1842
Hale1739
Russell1710
Marengo1706
Barbour1671
Lauderdale1642
Calhoun1603
Choctaw1538
Wilcox1487
Clarke1442
Cullman1430
Randolph1277
St. Clair1231
Marion12211
Pickens1164
Dale1150
Talladega1135
Limestone1060
Chilton1011
Greene944
Winston900
Macon824
Henry802
Covington801
Jackson782
Crenshaw753
Bibb751
Washington706
Escambia633
Blount621
Lawrence500
Geneva430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Monroe402
Perry390
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 22566

Reported Deaths: 364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Davidson504062
Shelby4943111
Trousdale13924
Rutherford119623
Sumner88145
Hamilton79415
Bledsoe6071
Williamson55210
Putnam4795
Robertson4653
Tipton4423
Out of TN4184
Lake4140
Wilson4078
Knox3755
Bedford2834
Montgomery2693
Rhea2100
Hardeman1960
Madison1752
Loudon1430
McMinn14114
Macon1363
Cheatham1230
Bradley1221
Fayette1152
Cumberland1121
Dickson1090
Unassigned920
Blount913
Maury890
Sevier812
Washington750
Coffee730
Wayne640
Gibson631
Monroe622
Sullivan602
Hickman580
Lauderdale561
Franklin531
Greene502
Dyer500
Marion401
Anderson401
DeKalb370
Hamblen362
Smith341
White330
Hawkins332
Lawrence310
Grundy311
Haywood312
Marshall311
Obion301
Henry300
Jefferson280
Carroll271
Overton260
Meigs260
Weakley260
Lincoln250
Warren230
Cannon210
Perry210
Cocke200
Carter191
Campbell181
Morgan170
Jackson170
Crockett162
Roane160
Polk160
Johnson160
Henderson150
Hardin152
Sequatchie150
Humphreys131
Fentress120
McNairy120
Chester120
Giles120
Scott120
Stewart110
Claiborne90
Houston80
Grainger80
Clay70
Benton71
Decatur50
Unicoi40
Union40
Van Buren40
Lewis30
Pickett30
Moore30
Hancock10

 

 

Community Events