Up to this day, misconceptions on vaccination are still prevalent. It doesn’t help that there are social media platforms now to allow erroneous information to spread around like wildfire. Just allowing these misconceptions to go around can pose a huge threat to global health.
In line with this, Facebook pledged to direct its users to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) vaccine information, in an effort to quell the spread of false information.
WHO named vaccine hesitancy among the top ten threats to global health in 2019.
Vaccine misinformation is a major threat to global health that could reverse decades of progress made in tackling preventable diseases”, according to the WHO
WHO estimates that vaccination prevents 2-3 million deaths this year, a figure which would rise by another 1.5 million through intensified efforts to widen global vaccine coverage.
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Apart from financial support, convincing the public that vaccination is beneficial to them is also one huge barrier for us. Being undoubtedly the largest social media platform currently existing, the aid of Facebook will hugely benefit the battle against misinformation.
Some of the specific steps cited by Facebook that they would take as a part of the pledge include:
- Reducing the rank of groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations in Facebook, removing them from the automated recommendations.
- Rejecting ads that include misinformation about vaccinations.
- Hiding content that contains misinformation about vaccinations on Instagram Explore as well as the hashtag pages.
- Exploring ways to share educational information about vaccines when people come across misinformation.
- Barring access to the fundraising tools of Facebook pages that spread vaccine misinformation.
“We are fully committed to the safety of our community and will continue to expand on this work,” Facebook said.
More than the diseases themselves, another big monster that we should eliminate is misinformation. Hopefully, this step taken by Facebook will convince other influential platforms to follow suit.