Facebook has announced a campaign to crackdown on the spread of vaccination misinformation amid criticism it has provided a platform for anti-vaccination campaigns, Fox News reported.
The social network revealed last week a series of steps it would be taking to fight anti-vaxxers.
“Leading global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes,” a statement released by Facebook said. “If these vaccine hoaxes appear on Facebook, we will take action against them.”
These actions will include reducing the ranking of groups and pages promoting anti-vaccination campaigns in the news feeds and search boxes of users. Facebook said it would reject any ads found to include misinformation about vaccinations and would no longer show or recommend content containing misinformation about vaccinations on Instagram or other hashtag pages.
The announcement comes as social media platforms face increased pressure to clamp down on the spread of anti-vaccination posts. Fueling public outrage was a report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which documented the details of a six-year-old boy in Oregon who contracted tetanus because he was not vaccinated.
According to the report, the incident took place in 2017 when the unnamed boy was playing outside and cut his forehead. He was later admitted into hospital with tetanus and had to undergo 57 days of inpatient acute care, including 47 days in the intensive care unit.
A recent report revealed at least half of all parents with small children have come across misinformation about vaccines on social media, The Guardian reported.
Shirley Cramer, the chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), which published the report, said there was a need to counteract health misinformation online and via social media.
“We call on the social media giants and the platforms to look at what they could do around this because it is a breeding ground for misleading information and negative messaging,” she said. “There could be some really negative and dangerous consequences. They need to take some responsibility.”