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: 313166

Reported Deaths: 7228
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21496257
Hinds20294414
Harrison17814309
Rankin13573278
Jackson13411246
Madison10066217
Lee9962173
Jones8364163
Forrest7649152
Lauderdale7181240
Lowndes6370145
Lamar621686
Lafayette6171118
Washington5323133
Bolivar4797132
Oktibbeha461498
Panola4561105
Pearl River4499145
Marshall4397103
Warren4380121
Pontotoc419572
Monroe4100133
Union409076
Neshoba4026176
Lincoln3950110
Hancock377786
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335790
Tate332484
Pike3301105
Scott315373
Alcorn311968
Yazoo310769
Itawamba299477
Copiah296465
Simpson294788
Coahoma294379
Tippah287768
Prentiss279560
Adams269582
Marion268880
Leake266273
Wayne262341
Grenada260386
Covington256381
George246848
Newton246061
Winston226881
Tishomingo225967
Jasper220848
Attala214173
Chickasaw207157
Holmes188673
Clay184754
Stone182033
Tallahatchie178140
Clarke177879
Calhoun170132
Yalobusha163337
Smith162234
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125938
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104826
Claiborne102230
Benton99125
Humphreys96133
Kemper95428
Franklin83623
Quitman80216
Choctaw76118
Wilkinson66930
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50317
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530325

Reported Deaths: 10966
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763971520
Mobile40908804
Madison34717503
Tuscaloosa25730452
Montgomery24314588
Shelby23401249
Baldwin21107307
Lee15856171
Calhoun14488314
Morgan14282279
Etowah13819353
Marshall12210223
Houston10557280
Elmore10044205
Limestone9954150
Cullman9649193
St. Clair9644242
Lauderdale9419241
DeKalb8825185
Talladega8214175
Walker7223277
Autauga6918108
Jackson6804112
Blount6651137
Colbert6292134
Coffee5506119
Dale4828111
Russell440638
Chilton4279112
Franklin425582
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4019152
Escambia393276
Chambers3559123
Dallas3547151
Clarke350861
Marion3113100
Pike310577
Lawrence299898
Winston274072
Bibb260464
Marengo249264
Geneva249077
Pickens234160
Barbour230757
Hale222677
Butler215969
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184445
Randolph179941
Monroe177340
Washington167039
Macon158750
Clay156156
Crenshaw152057
Cleburne148741
Lamar141934
Lowndes138653
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa107128
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 68°
Columbus
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 65°
Oxford
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 61°
This will bring back into our area some more chances for some rain and thunderstorms.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather