Pinterest to point people searching for vaccine info to health organizations

Pinterest to point people searching for vaccine info to health organizations
© Pinterest

The social media site Pinterest on Wednesday announced that it will now provide users with “reliable results about immunizations” within searches for measles, vaccine safety and other health and medical terms in order to combat misinformation about vaccines. 

The information on the site, which shares a wide range of lifestyle content and tips, will be sourced from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the WHO-established Vaccine Safety Net, according to a statement from Pinterest’s Public Policy and Social Impact Manager Ifeoma Ozoma.

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“As we continue to tackle health misinformation, we remove it and the accounts that spread it from our service,” Ozoma said in a statement. “But we also want to bring expert content onto Pinterest. We know we aren’t medical experts, which is why we’re working with professionals to inspire Pinners with reliable information about health.”

Pinterest announced last year that it would “stop showing results for searches related to vaccines” in an effort to stop misinformation about vaccines. Their new function shows information about vaccines from health institutions, but it will not show any recommendations or comments on “pins” from regular users. 

It also will not show advertisements in its content about vaccines and medical information. It has been against the site’s community guidelines to promote anti-vaccination information since 2017.

The news comes as measles cases in the U.S. have spiked to the greatest reported numbers since 1992 and have endangered the U.S.'s measles eliminated status that it achieved in 2000. The WHO also announced that vaccine hesitancy is one of 2019’s top 10 global health threats.

Pinterest said it is concerned about a data void regarding “reliable information about vaccines,” meaning that there is a greater spread of anti-vaccine content than vaccine content. It announced that it is addressing this gap by working with health organizations to create “visually compelling” content for the site to share with users. 

“Health misinformation has the potential to impact public health, regardless of what service it’s found on. Allowing this content to spread through Pinterest’s search results is not in line with enforcing our community guidelines,” Ozoma said in the Wednesday statement.