Facebook under pressure to control spread of anti-vaccine content
Facebook is under more pressure from lawmakers and health experts to battle misinformation about vaccinations, told Thursday its looking at ways to tackle the problem
Facebook is under more pressure from lawmakers and health experts to battle misinformation about vaccinations, told Thursday it's looking at ways to tackle the problem.
A Facebook spokesperson told the social networking firm is exploring, "potential approaches to making educational information about vaccines more easily available and minimizing the harm caused by misinformation about vaccines and other important health issues."
The firm hasn’t confirmed its plans yet but verified that it's looking to reduce or remove recommendations for anti-vaccine content. Earlier Bloomberg reported that the firm is also looking at demoting anti-vaccine content in search results too and recommended groups Facebook users to join.
A Facebook spokesperson told in an email, "We recognize that contentious perspectives exist. We believe removing provocative thinking does little to build awareness around facts and different approaches to health, counter-speech in the form of accurate information and alternative viewpoints can help create a safer and more respectful environment."
According to The Guardian people conflicting to vaccines have used the social network to spread misinformation in groups where members have to be approved, which is making it difficult for Facebook to monitor this content. Facebook told it to let users report groups, posts and comments. For the moment, the pressure is heating up for the world's largest social network.
On Thursday, US Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., sent a letter to Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai that included several questions about what the companies are doing to combat misinformation about vaccines.
The World Health Organization (WHO) listed "vaccine hesitancy," which is the reluctance or refusal to get vaccinated despite its availability, one of the top 10 threats of the year 2019. Washington State declared a local public health emergency in the month of January after 25 cases of measles popped up in Clark County. Since then, measles outbreaks in that county have reached to 53 confirmed cases and 47 of those children were unvaccinated, as per the Clark County's Public Health.
"As more Americans depend on your services as their primary source of information, it is essential that you take that responsibility with the seriousness it requires," Schiff wrote and nothing matters more than public health and children's health.