Google, Facebook queried on anti-vaccine Information | Digital


It has called "vaccine hesitancy" one of the top 10 threats to global health.

This week, Facebook has come under fire for promoting anti-vaccination material, especially ads targeting women in regions with high numbers of measles cases, according to reporting from the Daily Beast.

Although the spread of misinformation about immunizations has potentially fatal repercussions, a Facebook spokesperson said the company doesn't believe removing such content doesn't help to increase awareness.

On Thursday, US Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., sent a letter to Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai that included several questions about what the companies are doing to combat misinformation about vaccines.

"The algorithms which power these services are not created to distinguish quality information from misinformation or misleading information, and the consequences of that are particularly troubling for public health issues", Schiff wrote to both tech executives.

Facebook said it's taken steps to reduce the distribution of health-related misinformation over the platform, but added, "we know we have more to do".

Less than 20 years ago, measles in the USA was classified as a eradicated disease with only a few hundred cases nationwide, according to the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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"We are committed to accurate and useful information throughout Facebook".

A recent study from the Credibility Coalition and Health Feedback, a group of scientists that evaluates the accuracy of health media coverage, found that the majority of the most-clicked health stories on Facebook in 2018 were either fake, or contained a significant amount of misleading information.

But people opposed to vaccines have used the social network to spread misinformation in groups where members have to be approved, making it hard for Facebook to police this content, according to The Guardian. "We have more to do, and will continue efforts to provide educational information on important topics like health".

In recent years, anti-vaccination groups have been vocal on Facebook, frequently sharing and posting information against vaccines and their safety.

Anti-vaccine information, which is supposed to discourage parents from vaccinating their children, has been spread in posts, and has particularly gained traction in Facebook 'groups'.

After hearing the decision of Facebook and its management, anti-vaccination activists protested and many social media users who are against the idea said that "it takes away our freedom of speech and self-expression".