Facebook May Take Extra Steps to Remove Anti-Vaccine Misinformation

Facebook May Take Extra Steps to Remove Anti-Vaccine Misinformation

Conspiracy theories on the site may have contributed to a measles outbreak. Content discouraging parents from vaccinating their children has been rampant on the site, particularly in Facebook Groups, and may have contributed to a measles outbreak in Washington State. That caught the attention of U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, who wrote a letter to Facebook and Google asking them to address the problem. Schiff noted that Facebook is surfacing and recommending messages that may pose a threat to public health. "Repetition of information, even if false, can often be mistaken for accuracy," he wrote. Facebook said that it's "exploring additional measures to best combat the problem," including "reducing or removing this type of content from recommendations, including 'Groups You Should Join,' and demoting it in search results, while also ensuring that higher quality and more authoritative information is available." Google recently said YouTube would restrict video recommendations that "could misinform users in harmful ways," including anti-vaccine videos. Until recently, anti-vax videos topped results for "vaccine" searches, but the top results now appear to be from sites like Last Week Tonight attempting to dispel vaccination myths. However, avoiding them can put not just your own children but others at risk, particularly small babies who have yet to be inoculated. "Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage ... we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities," said Unicef's Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.

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Conspiracy theories on the site may have contributed to a measles outbreak.

Facebook May Take Extra Steps to Remove Anti-Vaccine Misinformation

This story originally appeared on Engadget

Facebook is “exploring additional measures” to fight anti-vaccine disinformation, according to Bloomberg. Content discouraging parents from vaccinating their children has been rampant on the site, particularly in Facebook Groups, and may have contributed to a measles outbreak in Washington State. That caught the attention of U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, who wrote a letter to Facebook and Google asking them to address the problem.

Schiff noted that Facebook is surfacing and recommending messages that may pose a threat to public health. For instance, the Guardian recently reported that Facebook was accepting and promoting ads from anti-vax groups. “Repetition of information, even if false, can often be mistaken for accuracy,” he wrote. “The algorithms which power these services are not designed…

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