Saturday, 25 May, 2019

Facebook Considers Removing Anti-Vaccine Information from Site

How bad is measles? Ask a veteran pediatrician who has seen it kill patients Experts call on Facebook to halt anti-vaccine conspiracy groups
Anna Jefferson | 18 February, 2019, 20:22

"The World Health Organisation listed vaccine hesitancy, the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines - as one of the top threats to global health in 2019", he wrote.

A sponsored ad found by Quartz journalist Jeremy Merrill shows the anti-vaccination organization Stop Mandatory Vaccination targeting women ages 20 to 60 who have expressed interest in pregnancy living in the state of Washington - where the governor recently declared a state of emergency over the measles outbreak.

Facebook is considering removing anti-vaccination recommendations after being pressured by a member of Congress, according to a new report.

Facebook has enabled advertisers to promote anti-vaccine content to almost nine lakh people interested in "vaccine controversies", the media reported.

Californian Democrat and Intelligence Select Committee Chair Adam Schiff sent an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, asking him to take responsibility for fear mongering on the website which might cause parents to think twice about immunising their children from harmful diseases.

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"The algorithms which power these services are not created to distinguish quality information from misinformation or misleading information, and the consequences of that are particularly troubling for public health issues", Schiff wrote to both tech executives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 101 cases of measles have been reported in at least 10 states so far this year compared to 372 cases all of last year.

"We have separate efforts on misleading and otherwise low quality health content because of the potential harm that content creates for people and society". Additionally, Facebook will step up its fake news policing to ensure more authoritative information is available on its social network site.

Up until now, anti-vaccination groups have been open to Facebook by sharing and posting information against vaccines and their safety.

As a disturbing number of measles outbreaks crop up around the United States, Facebook is facing challenges combating widespread misinformation about vaccinations on its platform, which has become a haven for the anti-vaccination movement. Facebook did not respond to questions from the Guardian about its plans for dealing with the issue.

Mr Schiff said he was also concerned about reports claiming Facebook accepts paid advertising that contains misinformation about vaccines. Vaccinations ranked among the three most popular story topics. But companies such as Google and Facebook have had to balance fighting misinformation with protecting free speech.

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