Readers know I am 100% against the so-called “antivax” movement and feel it’s a major threat to public health. But this kind of ham-handed censorship is just going to make the problem worse, not better:
Instagram said Thursday it plans to block a slew of anti-vaccine hashtags amid an ongoing crackdown on medical misinformation on the platform.
The company, which is owned by Facebook, shared its plans after media outlets inquired about anti-vaccine misinformation continuing to spread on the social media giant’s platforms.
Facebook three weeks ago unveiled plans to combat anti-vaccine content, including a pledge that it would no longer promote anti-vaccine posts on Instagram’s search and “explore” features.
The Atlantic and CNN on Thursday reported that Facebook and Instagram’s search functions still recommend vaccine-related misinformation, including groups and hashtags that associate vaccinations with autism, a claim that scientists and experts have categorically debunked.
“As part of our work to address health-related misinformation on Instagram, we’re looking at ways to minimize recommendations of this content and accounts that post it across Instagram – including in ‘Suggested For You’, Explore and hashtags,” an Instagram spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday evening.
The spokesperson said the platform’s planned “short-term measures” will include blocking hashtags associated with “known health-related misinformation including #vaccinescauseautism, #vaccinesarepoison, and #vaccinescauseids.”
As of Thursday evening, those hashtags had not yet been blocked.