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Facebook unveils feature to combat vaccine misinformation

Facebook unveils feature to combat vaccine misinformation
© Facebook

Facebook unveiled a new feature Wednesday in an effort to stop vaccine misinformation online, directing users to credible health resources when they search vaccines on the social media site.

Now, when users search “vaccines” a box pops up at the top of Facebook’s search offering to direct them to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s website, according to a Wednesday statement.

“Looking for Vaccine Info?” the box asks. “When it comes to health, everyone wants reliable, up-to-date information. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has information that can help answer questions you may have about vaccines.”

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The box also pops up when users search “#vaccines” on Instagram.

The update came after months of trying to stem misinformation about vaccines on the site. In March, Facebook announced that it would no longer promote anti-vaccine groups and pages in search results, and it would not surface them in users’ newsfeeds. It also announced that when it found advertisements that spread misinformation about vaccinations it would reject them.  

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, also stopped promoting posts that spread anti-vaccine content in its “explore” page for users.

In April, the site also announced that it “may also remove access to our fundraising tools for Pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations on Facebook.” 

In May, Instagram blocked the hashtag “#VaccinesKill” as part of its crackdown on anti-vaccination content.

Earlier this year, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOvernight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing MORE (D-Calif.) called out Facebook over concerns that the social media giant and Google were recommending anti-vaccine content in a letter to the companies.

“As a Member of Congress who is deeply concerned about declining vaccination rates, I am requesting additional information on the steps that you currently take to provide medically accurate information on vaccinations to your users, and to encourage you to consider additional steps you can take to address this growing problem,” Schiff wrote to CEOs Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Apple approves Parler's return to App Store | White House scales back response to SolarWinds, Microsoft incidents | Pressure mounts on DHS over relationship with Clearview AI Facebook unveils new audio features Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference MORE and Sundar Pichai in a February letter.