The company is prioritizing taking action against content that the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has publicly identified as false. The company will start by lowering the ranking of groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations in its News Feed and Search options, a representative said Wednesday.
Facebook will ban anti-vaccination adverts and suppress anti-vaccine content as part of a broad crackdown against risky medical misinformation.
The company has come under fire for the slew of anti-vax groups and pages on the website spreading myths, such as vaccines causing autism and conspiracy theories about mandatory vaccinations. Ad accounts that continue to violate company policies may even be disabled.
Since Facebook groups can work as invite-only pages, entry to various anti-vaccination groups requires an invitation from someone who is already a member.
Last month, The Daily Beast found almost 150 anti-vaccine advertising spots on Facebook that specifically target women over the age of 25, which is the demographic most likely to have children needing vaccinations.
Saudi Arabia's chief diplomat assures Pakistan of Kingdom's support amid regional crisis
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Muhammad Qureshi earlier said that China would send a special envoy to Pakistan and India to defuse the tensions.
DFR, a small online forensics team of Washington-based Atlantic Council thinktank, has been working with Facebook to enhance the social network's investigations of foreign interference.
An investigation by the Guardian newspaper found that Facebook search results for information about vaccines were "dominated by anti-vaccination propaganda". "For example, if a group or Page admin posts this vaccine misinformation, we will exclude the entire group or Page from recommendations, reduce these groups and Pages' distribution in News Feed and Search, and reject ads with this misinformation".
Facebook-owned Instagram is also receiving some changes over the coming weeks. Facebook, YouTube and Amazon have faced criticism from journalists and lawmakers alike in the recent weeks for allowing misinformation of vaccines to spread throughout the platforms.
Last week the head of NHS England warned "vaccination deniers" were gaining traction on social media as part of a "fake news" movement. While overall vaccination rates remain high in the USA according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of kids under two who haven't received any vaccines is growing.