Some end-of-week good news. Social networking service Instagram has said that it will block hashtags that spread misinformation about vaccination. While it already blocks hashtags such as #vaccinescauseautism that are false claims, it will now block more general hashtags used to spread lies by anti-vaxxers.
As we well know by now, vaccination saves lives and we at ITIJ are thrilled by measures that can educate people on the importance of vaccination and halt the spread of misinformation. Instagram reportedly told the BBC that it will not take action against people or accounts that identify themselves as anti-vaxxers but will work to limit the spread of provably false claims as these have real-world harmful effects on the public.
In order to identify hoaxes, Instagram will rely on global authorities such as the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “If the hashtag was #vaccines1234, if it contained a high proportion of known vaccine misinformation, we would block that hashtag entirely,” said Karina Newton, Instagram’s Global Head of Public Policy.
Instagram said that it is likely people will continue to find anti-vaccine propaganda on Instagram for some time as the work to remove anti-vaccine information from the platform is in its early stages.