Facebook is Combating Anti-Vaccination Narratives

After the measles outbreak had started in the northwest of the USA, and the subsequent YouTube decision from March to remove ads supporting anti-vaccination position, Facebook, which was heavily criticized for failing to undertake measures against conspiracy theorists and anti-vaccination narratives, decided to stop spreading of fake news concerning vaccines.

They intend to do so through rejecting the ads containing fake news, they will not show or recommend pages in News Feed that contribute to this issue and will fight back from the relevant addresses, such as the World Health Organization.

Facebook published on March 8th the plans that are to be implemented in order to stop spreading of the fake news on vaccines, as well as anti-vaccination narratives on its platform.

As stated by the official representative, Monica Bickert, Facebook will start the implementation through specific steps:

  • We will reduce the ranking of groups and Pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations in the News Feed and Search. These groups and Pages will not be included in recommendations or in predictions when you type into Search.
  • When we find ads that include misinformation about vaccinations, we will reject them. We also removed related targeting options, like “vaccine controversies.” For ad accounts that continue to violate our policies, we may take further action, such as disabling the ad account.
  • We won’t show or recommend content that contains misinformation about vaccinations on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages.
  • We are exploring ways to share educational information about vaccines when people come across misinformation on this topic.

The leading health organization, such as the World Health organization ant the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have publicly identified fake news on vaccines that can be subject to the verification. If they identify such narratives on Facebook, they will undertake measures against them.

As stated, if a group or page admin posts such disinformation, Facebook will remove the entire group or page from the recommendations, decrease the position and ranking of those groups and pages in News Feed and Search, thus rejecting those fake posts.

World Health Organization published a list of the greatest threats for human health in 2019 and, apart from Ebola and other dangerous diseases, the list contained anti-vaccines activists, who were declared as one of the greatest threats for human health, because due to their activities we face the return of the diseases that have almost been eradicated.