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Facebook to get tougher on anti-vaxers

Facebook will soon take action against misinformation about vaccines, according to a Facebook representative.Public health experts have pointed finger...

Posted: Feb 26, 2019 7:37 AM

Facebook will soon take action against misinformation about vaccines, according to a Facebook representative.

Public health experts have pointed fingers at social media platforms, saying that false claims that vaccines cause autism and other diseases have frightened parents into refusing to vaccinate, resulting in the current measles outbreak that started in Washington state.

The Facebook representative, who asked not to be named, said the social media giant is working with health experts to decide what changes to make and considering a combination of approaches to handle vaccine misinformation. These approaches wouldn't take misinformation off Facebook but rather make it less prominent.

For example, groups that promote vaccine misinformation wouldn't show up in the list of groups that Facebook recommends users join. Also, Facebook would make sure that posts containing vaccine misinformation would appear farther down in a user's newsfeed.

Public health and technology experts welcomed the planned changes. "This is good news," said Art Caplan, head of the Division of Medical Ethics at the New York University School of Medicine. "They're incremental steps, but they're heading in the right direction."

Darrell West, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the nonprofit Brookings Institute, agreed. "Facebook is on the side of science," he said. "They're acting in accordance with the scientific consensus."

Facebook is also considering making changes in its advertising policy, according to the representative. A CNN search on Facebook's archived advertisement website found that several groups that promote false information about vaccines are advertising on the site.

Another change would involve putting results with vaccine misinformation farther down when people search for certain terms. This could result in major changes. According to recent CNN searches on Facebook, anti-vaccine groups now show up high on the list of results when the word "vaccine" is searched.

Facebook has been under considerable pressure to do something about the anti-vaccine information on its site; other social media platforms got tough on such content years ago. For example, YouTube doesn't allow ads to appear on videos that promote anti-vaccine content, which means these groups cannot make money through advertising.

Pinterest has the most restrictive rules about vaccine information; users are unable to link to certain sites that have misinformation, among other restrictions.

"We're a place to go to for inspiration, and there's nothing inspiring about harmful content," said Ifeoma Ozoma, Pinterest's policy and social impact manager.

Caplan said that while he welcomes Facebook's changes, he wishes the platform wouldn't stop there. "It may be necessary go even further in terms of pulling scurrilous and erroneous sites down completely," he said.

A First Amendment rights advocate, however, said she thought Facebook had struck the right balance. "They're avoiding censorship, but they're not necessarily recommending it to their readers, and that's probably the best way to go about it," said Lata Nott, executive director of the First Amendment Center at the nonpartisan Freedom Forum Institute.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
Tishomingo336289
Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
St. Clair15442305
Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136537
Sumter124536
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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While some cool mornings are again in store for the weekend, afternoons start to warm up a bit, so plan on dressing in layers if you're heading to the MSU or Bama games, because you'll need to utilize them in different ways.
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