Make your home page

Facebook adds pop-ups to address vaccine misinformation

Facebook debuted pop-ups to address vaccine misinformation (KXAN Photo/Kate Winkle)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Facebook has begun rolling out pop-up windows on Facebook and Instagram whenever people search for topics related to vaccines.

“We are working to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook by reducing its distribution and providing people with authoritative information on the topic,” the social media giant wrote in a blog post first published in March.

In the United States, people who search for information about vaccines will see information linking to the Centers for Disease Control. The text says “When it comes to health, everyone wants reliable, up-to-date information that can help answer questions you may have about vaccines.” Outside the U.S., people will see a link to the World Health Organization.

On Thursday, a search for the word “vaccine” in the Facebook app turned up that pop-up, as well as links to and posts from pages and groups like the World Health Organization, American Cancer Society, WHO, Baylor College of Medicine and the group “Pro-vaxxers.”

Facebook previously said it would reduce the rankings of groups or pages that spread misinformation about vaccines. Those groups won’t appear in searches, and may have fundraising tools removed. It also says it will reject misleading advertisements.

“Leading global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes,” Facebook wrote. “If these vaccine hoaxes appear on Facebook, we will take action against them.”

However, Facebook isn’t completely removing anti-vaccination groups because it says it wants users to see both sides of the debate, according to CNN.

This move comes as the U.S. is experiencing a measles outbreak of more than 1,200 cases across 31 states, CNN reports. It added that last week Pinterest said searches for “measles” and “vaccines” would only turn up results from public health organizations. Earlier this year Amazon removed anti-vaccine documentaries from its streaming service and YouTube pulled advertising from videos promoting anti-vaccine content.