Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Facebook Rolls Out Pop-Up Windows For Vaccine Information

Health + Wellness
Facebook Rolls Out Pop-Up Windows For Vaccine Information
Quote Catalog / Flickr

Facebook will take a stand against the dangerous practice of spreading misinformation about vaccines. The social media behemoth, which has served as an online meeting spot for spreading memes of misinformation about vaccine safety and efficacy, will now try to redirect consumers on its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, to reputable sites for information about vaccines, as the Guardian reported.


From now on, whenever a user searches for vaccine-related information, the social network will show a card at the top of the page that urges users to obtain information from a credible source.

In the U.S. the notification will direct people to the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In other parts of the world, those same notifications will send people to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Instagram will do the same on its platform.

The move follows Pintrest, which last week shifted its policies so it only displays pins from reputable medical organizations like the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics when a user searches for vaccine-related information, as Endgadget reported.

"Major digital organizations have a responsibility to their users - to ensure that they can access facts about vaccines and health," the WHO said in a statement, as Reuters reported.

"Vaccine misinformation is a major threat to global health that could reverse decades of progress made in tackling preventable diseases," it said. Deadly infectious diseases such as measles, diphtheria, hepatitis, polio, cholera and yellow fever can all be prevented with immunization, it noted.

The CDC also praised the move by the social media companies.

"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," wrote CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund in an email to CNN.

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

The WHO says that immunizations save nearly 2 million lives worldwide every year. Yet, thanks to the spread of misinformation on social media platforms, there have been over 1,200 confirmed cases of measles in the U.S. in 2019. That is the highest number of cases since 1992, and particularly alarming to health officials since it is easily prevented with immunization, as Endgadget reported.

"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," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a written statement as CNN reported. "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."

A report in January, which the Guardian reported on, found that half of all UK parents of small children had been exposed to misinformation online about the side effects of vaccination. The Royal Society for Public Health called on Facebook and other social media companies to combat the scourge of misinformation.

Furthermore, a Guardian investigation earlier this year found that Facebook users were inadvertently directed by popularity algorithms to unscientific anti-vaccine propaganda.

Misinformation about vaccinations has thwarted major immunization campaigns recently, like ones to prevent polio in Pakistan and to immunize against yellow fever in South America, as Reuters reported.

The WHO said such moves by social media "must be matched by tangible steps by governments and the health sector" to promote trust in vaccinations and to respond to concerned parents, according to Reuters.

Screenshot of searching for vaccines on Facebook.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Mountain Valley Pipeline proposes to carry natural gas for hundreds of miles over dozens of water sources, through protected areas and crossing the Appalachian Trail. Appalachian Trail Conservancy / YouTube

It's been a bad summer for fracked natural gas pipelines in North Carolina.

Read More Show Less
Atlantic puffins courting at Maine Coastal Island National Wildlife Refuge in 2009. USFWS / Flickr

When Europeans first arrived in North America, Atlantic puffins were common on islands in the Gulf of Maine. But hunters killed many of the birds for food or for feathers to adorn ladies' hats. By the 1800s, the population in Maine had plummeted.

Read More Show Less
Rescue workers dig through the rubble following a gas explosion in Baltimore, Maryland on Aug. 10, 2020. J. Countess / Getty Images

A "major" natural gas explosion killed two people and seriously injured at least seven in Baltimore, Maryland Monday morning.

Read More Show Less
The recalled list includes red, yellow, white and sweet yellow onions, which may be tainted with salmonella. Pxhere

Nearly 900 people across the U.S. and Canada have been sickened by salmonella linked to onions distributed by Thomson International, the The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Methane flares at a fracking site near a home in Colorado on Oct. 25, 2014. WildEarth Guardians / Flickr

In the coming days, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to use its power to roll back yet another Obama-era environmental protection meant to curb air pollution and slow the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Researchers on the ICESCAPE mission, funded by NASA, examine melt ponds and their surrounding ice in 2011 to see how changing conditions in the Arctic affect the biological and chemical makeup of the ocean. NASA / Flickr

By Alex Kirby

The temperature of the Arctic matters to the entire world: it helps to keep the global climate fairly cool. Scientists now say that by 2035 there could be an end to Arctic sea ice.

Read More Show Less

Trending

President Vladimir Putin is seen enjoying the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Russia's Health Ministry has given regulatory approval for the world's first COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less