Facebook insists pages punished for promoting vaccine misinformation

Facebook insists pages on its platform that spread misinformation about vaccinations are being punished by the company reducing the number of people who can see such posts.

The social media company said it was now promoting science-based content from “authentic” sources such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) when users search for vaccine information on Facebook.

The WHO has declared vaccine hesitancy, including complacency and a lack of confidence and convenience, as one of the 10 main threats to global health this year. The rise in hesitancy, and a fall in vaccine uptake rates, has been largely attributed to an anti-vaccine movement that has grown on social media.

Speaking at the first Global Vaccination Summit in Brussels on Thursday, Jason Hirsch, Facebook’s public policy manager, said the company was taking its role in the area “very seriously”.

“We want to take a two-part approach to improving the quality of information about vaccinations on our platform,” he said. “The first thing that we are doing is reducing the distribution of misinformation about vaccinations and the second thing that we are doing is increasing exposure to credible, authoritative content on vaccinations.”

Minister fopr Health Simon Harris earlier this week called on companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google to to consider closing accounts and web pages that share fake information on vaccines.

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