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Facebook debuts vaccine pop-up windows to stop the spread of misinformation

A new feature is rolling out on Facebook and Instagram to combat the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation.Facebook, which owns Instagram, announced o...

Posted: Sep 5, 2019 3:31 AM
Updated: Sep 5, 2019 3:36 AM

A new feature is rolling out on Facebook and Instagram to combat the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, announced on Wednesday that educational pop-up windows will appear on the social media platforms when a user searches for vaccine-related content, visits vaccine-related Facebook groups and pages, or taps a vaccine-related hashtag on Instagram.

If the user is based in the United States, the pop-up window will connect the user to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for credible information on vaccines. If the user is outside of the United States, it will connect them to the World Health Organization.

The CDC praised Facebook's latest move to stop misinformation from circulating on its platform.

"We know that parents often turn to social media to access health information and connect with other parents, and it can be difficult to determine what is accurate and who the credible sources of information are," CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said in an email on Wednesday.

Combating "vaccine myths and misinformation is a shared responsibility and we applaud these efforts," she said in part.

This launch comes at the same time a measles outbreak has hit the United States, reaching more than 1,200 confirmed cases across 31 states since the beginning of the year. Outbreaks have also spread around the world, resulting in four European countries losing their measles-free status.

Public health experts have pointed to anti-vaccination content online as playing a major role in fewer people getting vaccinated against certain diseases, resulting in outbreaks of measles and other illnesses.

"The World Health Organization and Facebook have been in discussions for several months to ensure people will be able to access authoritative information on vaccines and reduce the spread of inaccuracies," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a written statement on Wednesday.

"Vaccine misinformation is a major threat to global health that could reverse decades of progress made in tackling preventable diseases. Many debilitating and deadly diseases can be effectively prevented by vaccines," he said. "Major digital organizations have a responsibility to their users -- to ensure that they can access facts about vaccines and health. It would be great to see social and search platforms come together to leverage their combined reach."

Just last week, the social media platform Pinterest announced that searches for "measles," "vaccine safety" and other vaccine-related content would only return results from public health organizations. The company said the new search experience is available now in English on its website and mobile apps.

Earlier this year, Amazon removed anti-vaccine documentaries from its Amazon Prime Video streaming service and YouTube pulled ads from appearing on videos that promote anti-vaccine content.

Facebook previously lowered the ranking of groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccines in its News Feed and Search options. Now the educational pop-up windows are another step in efforts to tackle the spread of misinformation.

"We want people to get accurate information, particularly about health," Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an interview in June.

"When things are hate or things are violence, we take them down. But when things are false, we dramatically decrease it and we show the other side of the story, and that's because the debate has to happen," she said. "The way you can say something is false is you have to be able to say, 'Here's the true side of the story,' and we want that debate to happen -- so that people do get educated and understand that the science is settled."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5060666

Reported Deaths: 74152
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152491227121
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581504
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
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