Now Pinterest will direct users searching about vaccines or measles to results from public health groups in major crackdown on anti-vaxx content

Stephen Matthews – Mail Online Aug 29, 2019

Pinterest has announced it will direct users searching for information about vaccines to results from leading public health groups.

The social media giant revealed it will show facts from leading medical bodies including the World Health Organization (WHO).

The site will also ban adverts, comments or recommendations on those pages to avoid any misinformation being shown.

The WHO said the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate was one of 10 threats to global health in 2019, citing the resurgence of diseases such as measles.

Every region in the world – except the Americas – is known to be experiencing a rise in cases of the highly contagious viral infection.

The UK lost its measles-free status just 10 days ago, largely blamed on a wave of dangerous anti-vaxx content posted online.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has previously said social media giants must do more to crack down on ‘damaging’ anti-vaccination myths.

His comments in March came just days after Instagram announced it would block anti-vaxxer hashtags such as #vaccinesarepoison.

It also followed an announcement by Facebook which said it would no longer show anti-vaccination groups or pages in its recommended content.

Google’s streaming site YouTube has also stopped running ads on anti-vaccine videos, citing a ban against harmful and dangerous content in its advertising policy

Pinterest said searches for ‘measles’ and ‘vaccine safety’ are among the terms that will prompt information from medical groups.

As well as the WHO, results will also be displayed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

‘We’re taking this approach because we believe showing vaccine misinformation alongside resources from public health experts isn’t responsible,’ the firm said.

‘As we continue to tackle health misinformation, we remove it and the accounts that spread it from our service.’

Ifeoma Ozoma, Pinterest’s public policy and social impact manager, said some purveyors of health misinformation have a financial incentive, TechCrunch reports.

She said: ‘Generally, there’s more accessible and visually compelling health misinformation than science-based journal articles on the virtues of vaccinations.’

Pinterest, a site launched in 2010, has around 250million active monthly users, according to estimates.

Anti-vaxxers are a growing problem in the Western world because they try to convince people that vaccinating children is bad for their health.

The WHO said they are one of the top 10 threats to human health in 2019, alongside air pollution, a flu pandemic and Ebola.

It said: ‘Social media platforms are the way many people get their information and they will likely be major sources of information for the next generations of parents.

‘We see this as a critical issue and one that needs our collective effort to protect people’s health and lives.’

One of the most common myths is that the MMR jab increases the risk of autism but this has since been proved to be a lie.

Anti-vaxxers also claim vaccines don’t work and that they may infect children with the illness they try to prevent – both of which are also untrue.

If fewer people get vaccinated – and the MMR jab uptake is at a seven-year low in the UK – deadly diseases like mumps, measles and polio could return.

In 1967, the year before the MMR vaccine was introduced in England, there were 460,407 diagnosed cases of measles. In 2017 that figure was 1,693.