Facebook, Pinterest And YouTube Take Action To Discourage The Anti-Vaxxer Campaign

Measles outbreaks continue to spread in the United States and worldwide as misinformation about vaccines created fear among parents around the world. The anti-vaccination propaganda was apparently successful as it encouraged many people to boycott vaccines. The result — kids and even adults are not safe from measles infection.

Social media platforms have played a major role in spreading misinformation about vaccines, especially Facebook. Many health experts have pointed fingers at social media networks as they become the source of wrong information, such as claims that vaccines cause autism and other diseases, which frightened parents, refusing to have their children vaccinated, resulting in the current measles outbreak that started in Washington state. 

With that, social media networks like Facebook, Youtube and even Pinterest are now taking action to stop misinformation about vaccines. According to CNN, a Facebook representative said that the social media giant is coordinating with health experts as to what changes to make and what approaches to use in order to handle vaccine misinformation. According to the source, Facebook will make misinformation less prominent on the platform. 

Here is an example: groups that promote vaccine misinformation will not show up on the list of groups that Facebook recommends users to join. Also, Facebook ensures that posts containing vaccine misinformation would appear farther down in the user's newsfeed. 

On Pinterest, if a user searches “vaccination” in the search box, it will lead the user to a blank page. Currently, the social media site has temporarily banned search terms related to vaccine in order to discourage misinformation about vaccines.

Youtube, on the other hand, has issued a statement to USA TODAY “calling anti-vaccination videos harmful and dangerous.” The platform has been critcized for allowing ads that promote fear on vaccines. Youtube channels make money by showing ads. Advertisers pay for their ads to play with a certain type of videos. However, certain types of videos that spread fear of childhood immunization are not supposed to be shown as ads and even be allowed to make money for it. 

“We have strict policies that govern what videos we allow ads to appear on, and videos that promote anti-vaccination content have been and remain a violation of our longstanding harmful or dangerous advertising policy. We enforce these policies vigorously, and if we find a video that violates them we immediately take action and remove ads,” YouTube said in a statement. 

The anti-vaxx ads were removed. However, many advertisers are mad as they were unaware that their ads ran alongside the anti-vaccination videos.  

According to Buzzfeed, one of the videos that was allowed to show ads is a video titled “Mom Researches Vaccines, Discovers Vaccination Horrors and Goes Vaccine Free.”

Some parents decided not to vaccinate their kids because of the discredited belief that vaccines are linked to autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention debunked this claim as there are no ingredients in vaccines that could cause autism.

Due to the controversy, AT&T said in a statement that it was removing its ads from Youtube (owned by Google) until Google could protect its brand from this kind of content. Apart from AT&T, more big-name companies like Disney, Nestle and Epic Games have pulled out ads over concerns that their ads were running on videos where pedophiles were making objectifying comments about young children.