On Thursday, Facebook announced its first policy to combat misinformation about vaccines that follow in the footsteps of Pinterest and YouTube.
The social network adopts an approach similar to the one used to deal with fake news: The company does not remove erroneous content, but it will strive to reduce the scope of that content by making it harder to find.
“Leading global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have publicly identified controllable vaccine leaps,” said Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, in a statement Thursday. “If these vaccine jumps appear on Facebook, we will take action against them.”
For example, the group Stop Mandatory Vaccination has almost 159,000 members. Larry Cook, the founder, shook a recently disabled GoFundMe page about an anti-vaccine Facebook video that he said was on average over 100,000 views per day. “This is how we reach parents!” He wrote. The video has 50,000 shares and has been viewed 2.1 million times.
According to Facebook’s new policy, groups and sites that spread incorrect information about vaccines will have lower rankings and will not be included in recommendations or predictions when users search within Facebook, the company said.
Instagram, owned by Facebook, will have similar policies. “We will not display or recommend content that contains incorrect information about vaccinations on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages,” says Bickert in the statement.
Facebook’s new rules come from measles outbreaks in the US and abroad, and only a few days after another study showed that the measles vaccine does not cause autism. The idea that vaccines are somehow linked to autism has become brutally debunked, but still remains among anti-vaccination activists.
Last month, representative Adam Schiff, California’s Democrat and House Intelligence Committee chairman wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, director of Facebook, asked which steps the company took to prevent the vaccine information being recommended to users.
Facebook said its artificial intelligence system will search for incorrect vaccination and flag posts and links – including images and videos displayed in closed groups – it will then be reviewed by someone at the company.
If the content proves to contain false claims about vaccines, posts from criminal groups or pages appear lower in a user’s news feed, the company said. However, members of Facebook groups promoting anti-vaccination content still see posts on the group’s side. The company said it is working on ways to alert new or existing group members if a group has shared vaccine information.
Anti-smoking groups will be “smoother” when moderation techniques evolve, says Joan Donovan, Head of Technology and Social Change Research Project at Shorenstein Center at Harvard Kennedy School.
Sometimes anti-vaccine propaganda appears on old, abandoned Facebook accounts, for example. On Thursday afternoon, the Facebook page Occupy Philly showed two recent posts warning about the dangers of vaccination.
Anti-vaccination groups can also take advantage of search engine optimization “using very specific keywords, especially the prescription names of some of these vaccines,” says Dr. Donovan, adding that anti-vaccination groups will also spread in “parent groups” where parents gather online. .
Screenshots and other images that contain written messages can also help posters hide from technically-based measures, says Dr. Donovan, investigating disinformation and media manipulation.
While Facebook said its artificial intelligence system can decipher text added to images, the company said it would not target every single vaccine record and instead focus on specific claims of vaccines that have been disproved.
The company also aims to crack down on advertising that contains error information abou t-vaccinations. Such ads will be rejected, Facebook said, and the company may disable ad accounts that violate their policies. It has also removed some vaccine-related targeting options such as “vaccine controversy”.
“I am really pleased that they recognize the downstream impact of this type of error information and take the right steps to balance expressions with the recognition that their curation and their proposals have an impact on the communities that people join,” said Renée DiResta, co-founder of Vaccinate California and Research Director of a Cyber Security Company. “I think the decision to stop accepting ad dollars is the right call.”
The World Health Organization identified “the hesitation of the vaccines” as one of the 10 threats to global health this year. vaccination can stem from many things: worry about side effects, diet, moral or religious objections or lack of knowledge of immunizations.
Since anti-vaccine groups have infiltrated social media, companies have been pressured to tide the tide of misinformation.
Last year blocked Pinterest results in connection with some vacci No related searches and said last month that it was working with experts to develop a more customized long-term strategy.
YouTube began to show more authoritative content by the end of 2017 for people looking for vaccination-related topics, and its policies prohibit anti-vaccine videos from showing ads. In India, the company has rolled out information panels that actually control specific requirements as another way to combat erroneous data, YouTube said on Thursday. The company said the control panels will expand to other countries this year.