UNITED STATES

Facebook to target vaccine misinformation in pages, groups, ads

Mar 7, 2019, 1:25 PM

(CNN) — Facebook, the world’s largest social media site, will soon take aim against anti-vaxxers. The company will start by lowering the ranking of groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations in its News Feed and Search options, a representative said Wednesday.

“These Groups and Pages will not be included in recommendations or in predictions when you type into Search,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, said in a statement. She added that when ads that include misinformation about vaccinations are found, “we will reject them.” Ad accounts that continue to violate company policies may even be disabled.

Facebook won’t be disabling personal accounts that post misinformation about vaccines, a spokeswoman told CNN on background. General misinformation doesn’t violate the company’s community standards. If something blatantly violates the standards, it will be removed, but that will not happen to individual posts containing misinformation.

Bickert said the company is also “exploring ways to share educational information about vaccines,” possibly by adding educational information to inaccurate posts.

The effort is company-wide and will be unrolled in the next few weeks.

About half of US teens use the social media site, and the number of American users 65 and older has doubled to 41% since 2012, according to Hootsuite, a social media management platform.

The Explore and hashtag pages of Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, also will not show or recommend content that contains anti-vaccination messages, Bickert said, explaining the details with a simple example.

If verified vaccine hoaxes — identified by World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — appear on Facebook, the company will take action, she said: “For example, if a group or Page admin posts this vaccine misinformation, we will exclude the entire group or Page from recommendations, reduce these groups and Pages’ distribution in News Feed and Search, and reject ads with this misinformation.”

A page labeled “Your ad preferences” reveals how the social media site categorizes the interests of each user, a recent Pew Research Center survey noted. However, most survey participants (74%) reported not knowing that a list of their traits and interests existed within the company’s data. And once directed to their “ad preferences” page, half said they are not comfortable with the company creating such a list.

Art Caplan, head of the Division of Medical Ethics at the New York University School of Medicine, has said he would welcome changes but said it may be necessary for Facebook to pull “scurrilous and erroneous sites down completely.”

Others believe Facebook is striking 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,” Lata Nott, executive director of the First Amendment Center at the nonpartisan Freedom Forum Institute, said late last month when the social media giant was working on the changes.

Last year, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority banned a Facebook ad paid for by a US-based anti-vaccination campaign group. The company did not say whether it is taking these new steps to avoid similarly arousing the ire of US regulatory authorities.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories

United States

President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid, ...
DARLENE SUPERVILLE and ZEKE MILLER Associated Press

Biden says transatlantic alliance has adapted to new threats

Biden's comments came at a press conference in Madrid at the conclusion of the annual meeting of NATO leaders and after he attended a summit with the Group of Seven advanced democratic economies in the Bavarian Alps.
3 days ago
A Rite Aid logo is displayed on its store...
HALELUYA HADERO, AP Reporter

Amazon, Rite Aid cap purchase of emergency contraceptives

Retailers limiting purchases is standard practice that helps retailers prevent stockpiling and reselling at higher prices.
3 days ago
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul stands with Lieutenant governor Antonio Delgado during their primary ele...
STEVE PEOPLES AP National Politics Writer

Takeaways from first primaries since Roe v. Wade overturned

The abortion debate consumed the nation this week, but there was no race where it mattered more than Colorado's Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, where businessman Joe O'Dea became one of the only abortion-rights-supporting Republicans in the nation to win a statewide primary this year.
4 days ago
Freshly pressed vinyl records are produced in a stamper at the United Record Pressing facility Thur...
DAVID SHARP Associated Press

Manufacturers struggle to keep pace with vinyl record demand

The Recording Industry Association of America says record album sales grew 61% last year — and reached $1 billion for the first time since the 1980s.
6 days ago
U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) speaks during the fifth of eight planned public hearings ...
Annie Grayer, CNN

January 6 committee unexpectedly adds new hearing for Tuesday

The announcement came as a surprise to many as the committee had said it was not going to resume its hearings until mid-July.
6 days ago
Bodycam footage from the Moab Police Department that shows them talking with Brian Laundrie is seen...
Jamiel Lynch and Chenelle Woody, CNN

Lawyer releases pages from Brian Laundrie’s notebook in which he admits to killing Gabby Petito

Eight pages of Brian Laundrie's notebook were released Friday by the Laundrie family attorney. The notebook was found near Brian Laundrie's remains.
9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Facebook to target vaccine misinformation in pages, groups, ads