Pinterest and YouTube say they're acting against anti-vaccine messages


PHOTO FILE: A health worker shows a syringe containing the dengue vaccine at Parang Marikina Primary School on April 4, 2016. The Department of Health, in cooperation with the World Health Organization, launches the series of immunization of a million children against the dengue virus. Jonathan Cellona, ​​ABS-CBN News

WASHINGTON – Several social networks, including Pinterest and YouTube, have taken detailed action in response to pressures to fight misinformation about vaccines they've been accused of allowing.

Pinterest confirmed Monday to AFP that it had changed policy last year in anti-vaccine content, a development announced for the first time last week by the Wall Street Journal.

The company said it had begun blocking some research related to vaccinations and cancer treatments last year because the results had led to misinformation.

"We want Pinterest to be an inspiring place for people, and misinformation is not inspiring," said a spokesman.

"That's why we continue to look for new ways to preserve the misleading content of our platform and recommendation engine."

In addition to blocking search results, the site has also banned accounts and removed "pins" that violate the rules for medical misinformation, but the spokesperson has not been able to give precise figures .

YouTube announced Friday that it was suppressing ads on anti-vaccine videos, eliminating a vital way to make money.

"We have strict rules governing videos on which we allow ad serving." "Videos that promote anti-vaccination content are and remain a violation of our long-standing harmful or dangerous advertising policy," said YouTube in a statement.

Buzzfeed had drawn attention to cases in which YouTube's automated recommendation system had allowed some anti-vaccine videos to pass.

Social networks in the United States and around the world are increasingly solicited to respond to criticisms that they have allowed the development of an anti-vaccine movement.

Since the beginning of the year, several measles outbreaks in the United States have left 159 people sick, including 65 in Clark County, Washington. Most cases involved unvaccinated children.

According to US health authorities, the percentage of children aged 2 years and older who have not been vaccinated rose from 0.9% of children born in 2011 to 1.3% of those born in 2015 .

In 2017-2018, the number of immunization waiver requests increased for the third year in a row in the United States.

On Feb. 14, Democratic lawmaker Adam Schiff wrote to Facebook and Google leaders about the problem. Facebook responded that the group was looking for ways to reduce the visibility of anti-vaccine content.

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