health

WHO welcomes Facebook pledge to curb anti-vaccine misinformation

22 Comments
By Kate Kelland

The World Health Organization has welcomed a commitment by Facebook that it would direct users seeking vaccine information on its Instagram, Facebook Search, Groups and other forums towards facts, not misinformation.

After several months of talks with the WHO, Facebook has pledged to direct its users to "accurate and reliable vaccine information in several languages" on the WHO's website, the United Nations health agency said, "to ensure that vital health messages reach people who need them the most".

"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.

"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.

Facebook confirmed in a statement that it is "starting to roll out more ways to connect people with authoritative information about vaccines on Facebook and Instagram".

It also said it would reduce the ranking of groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations in its News Feed and Search functions, and would reject any ads it finds that include misinformation about vaccinations.

The WHO says vaccines are one of the most powerful innovations in public health history and estimates that they save at least 2 million lives every year worldwide.

Immunization means millions more children avoid becoming infected with debilitating diseases that would result in long hospital stays and time out of school, the WHO says.

But misinformation about vaccination has spread far on social media in many countries in recent years - including during major vaccination campaigns to prevent polio in Pakistan and to immunize against yellow fever in South America.

First in English and then in other languages, vaccine-related searches on Facebook and Instagram from users outside of the United States will lead to information from the WHO, and take U.S.-based users to information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Facebook's move follows a similar decision by the social media company Pinterest Inc, which last week said its users searching vaccine-related topics, such as "measles" or"vaccine safety", would get results from organizations like the WHO, the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the WHO-backed Vaccine Safety Net.

The WHO said such moves by social media "must be matched by tangible steps by governments and the health sector" to promote trust in vaccination and respond to concerns of parents.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments

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The thought police are winning

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The thought police are winning

There is absolutely nothing wrong with directing people to scientific sites filled with sources that support their conclusions instead of sites filled with easy to demonstrate lies.

Specially because the lies have a terrible effect on public health, why would people think they have the right to fool others into their strange antivaxing cult?

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There's information for both sides of the argument, but I think one side will prevail, leading to misinformation, no matter what.

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There's information for both sides of the argument, but I think one side will prevail, leading to misinformation, no matter what

That is also a logical mistake, information do NOT have to be balanced between one side that is reliable, scientific and evidence based, and another side that is unreliable, frequently found false and based only on personal opinions. The first side is much more less likely to produce false information, the second is almost guaranteed to misinform.

To say it more simply, trying to give the same space to both side lead more to misinformation than giving a preferential treatment to the sources that try to produce only truthful information by using the scientific method. If the best side prevail it simply leads to the least amount of misinformation.

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When the censors win we all lose.

The effect of information skeptical of vaccines, whether true or false, is being greatly exaggerated for the sake of profits. Its fools and paid sock puppets following along screaming that we need censorship to avert disaster. Nonsense. Be wary of those people.

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The effect of information skeptical of vaccines, whether true or false, is being greatly exaggerated for the sake of profits.

Please present the data to prove it, is should be very easy to demonstrate that the effect is not as strong as expressed by the experts. If you don't have that data, how are you able to say it?

The real danger is people that think that repeating easy to demonstrate lies that put in danger the health and life of others should be protected and treated the same as trustworthy information. It should not. Should we also let people run scams freely? Obviously not.

Antivaxxers are just getting angry that the false information they use to try and fool people is being brought to the light and want to avoid the consequences of being found guilty of propagating unreliable or plain false information. Apparently making even a tiny effort to check if what they say is actually true before trying to convince other people is too much trouble. I am sorry but that should be the least to do to be able to be on the same ground as scientific sources.

Do you want other opinions to be represented the same? then do your best to make the people promoting those other opinions have sources as reliable and transparent as those that prove that vaccines are a safe and effective health intervention. The problem is that if they do that they will find out their opinions are actually not true.

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Please present the data to prove it,

People like you always scream for data to prove things so obvious, no one ever complied data for. If I said lots of people like chocolate, you would insist I show proof they were not faking....if there were some profit in the doubt.

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People like you always scream for data to prove things so obvious, no one ever complied data for.

It is not obvious, it is false. That is the real reason why there is no data for it.

It is also very easy to get data that proves that lots of people like chocolate, this is because differently from your initial misinformation this is true.

This is the usual antivaxxer process, say something outrageous but false, get called to at least try to prove it and then being unable completely to prove something that is false run to say you should just trust them because they know "the truth".

This is precisely why this baseless false information gets downgraded, it simply don't have the same degree of quality and objective sources, it is irrational to expect it to be treated the same as high quality, well sourced, transparent information produced by professionals that put their names on the line to inform people.

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virusrex,

Agree with every post you make, plenty of data out there to support the positive effect of vaccination programs, all of it by scientists, and plenty of other data to show that in areas where antivaxxers, usually not scientists, con enough people into following their anti-scientific, anti-evidence line then you'll get a comeback of diseases like measles and whooping cough.

So let's hope Facebook's move is successful.

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It is not obvious, it is false. That is the real reason why there is no data for it.

That you dead pan declare unspecified negative supposition about vaccines as "false" rather than "unproven" tells me you are either very unscientific or have some sort of investment in this issue, whether financial or emotional. You also poo-pooed actual successful vaccine damage claims in some light earlier as something like squeaky wheels getting undeserved grease.

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People like you always scream for data to prove things so obvious, no one ever complied data for. 

What you said isn't obvious, it's just an unsupported assertion. You were asked to support it, and (not bad for someone who complained about censorship) balked at the first opportunity. That doesn't suggest it's obvious, it suggests that you're using exactly the same ultra-lazy tactic resorted to by people with a conspiracy theory to sell, and that like them, you're not being honest.

Can you provide some evidence to back up what you said: "The effect of information skeptical of vaccines, whether true or false, is being greatly exaggerated for the sake of profits."

If you can't, or, as tends to be the case with vaccination "skeptics", your evidence is gathered from the cesspool, then it's not really obvious, and more importantly, there's no reason to assume that it's true.

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That you dead pan declare unspecified negative supposition about vaccines as "false" rather than "unproven" tells me you are either very unscientific or have some sort of investment in this issue, whether financial or emotional.

Unproven would be if nobody actually studied the effect of antivaxers lies on the preventable diseases, since this has been done and found true your statement can validly be qualified as false. Your lack of evidence on proving your point is due more to the evidence of the contrary than just not being any. You are expressing things that are not just unproven, they can and have been proven false. Unfortunately for antivaxxers this "small detail" is not something they consider and will repeat something endlessly no matter how many times someone points out that it can be falsified with objective data.

Also, everybody should have an investment on protecting true and well sourced information against false and misleading opinions from the antivaxers. It is a form of civil duty that unfortunately antivaxxers lack and that is why they find it strange and surprising.

You also poo-pooed actual successful vaccine damage claims in some light earlier as something like squeaky wheels getting undeserved grease.

Vaccine damage claims have NO obligation to prove that any damage is actually due to vaccines, only that there is a possibility for it, even if remote. So it is invalid to say that a successful claim prove damage, that is also demonstrably false. From a public health perspective this expended money is a necessary sacrifice to keep safe and effective vaccines available for the public, and it is much more important than spending more money endlessly proving that vaccines had nothing to do with specific claims over and over again. In this case the truth has to give its priority to epidemiological needs.

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You are expressing things that are not just unproven, they can and have been proven false.

I have expressed next to nothing. Your attacking me this way proves again your divorce from reason. On one hand you are asking me to evidence an exaggeration, which is in the league of attempting to prove a negative. On the other hand you have not proven that negative beliefs about vaccines are having a horrible effect to the point we need censorship.

The first rational step is for you to provide evidence of the damage being caused. According to an article you can search called "Anti-vaxxer effect on vaccination rates is exaggerated" the vaccine refusal rate in America is just 2 percent. I hardly think that warrants censorship of negative concerns about vaccines.

Vaccine damage claims have NO obligation to prove that any damage is actually due to vaccines, only that there is a possibility for it, even if remote.

Name one case where that was true.

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What you said isn't obvious, it's just an unsupported assertion. You were asked to support it, and (not bad for someone who complained about censorship) balked at the first opportunity.

The article and you and Virusrex all fail to make a solid case for censorship. The article says "Vaccine misinformation is a major threat to global health that could reverse decades of progress made in tackling preventable diseases." Except it hasn't. In all these years of what is being labeled as "misinformation" pretty much nothing has happened. Its not up to me to make a case before the original complainer has evidenced his claim. Obviously. I have next to nothing to work with unless the original complaint is evidenced.

So what is the data proving this "threat"? Lets see who is the one who balks. I will again cite America's 2 percent vaccine refusal rate...which includes Amish groups that have ALWAYS refused vaccines. Is that your grave danger, or do you have some other numbers?

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I have expressed next to nothing.

Yes you have, everything you write here is.

Your attacking me this way proves again your divorce from reason.

I am not attacking you, simply saying that it can be proven as false, if your intention is not to write false things it should be useful to you that this can be proven, antivaxxers blindly repeat falsehoods, you don't have to do the same thing.

On one hand you are asking me to evidence an exaggeration, which is in the league of attempting to prove a negative.

No, that is also false, it is easy to prove an exaggeration as long as you have the data, you can compare the reports with the scientifically projected statistics and prove that they are not sustained by the data and are invalidly inflated, if you cannot do that is mainly because no such thing has been done.

You don't have to prove a negative, on the contrary you only have to prove that a positive (invalid exageration) is commonly present. But as the data do not support this you cannot do it.

On the other hand you have not proven that negative beliefs about vaccines are having a horrible effect to the point we need censorship.

Have you even read the article? statistics from the WHO, CDC and other international agencies related with public health have proven an increase of cases of preventable diseases not related to the usual cases (natural disasters, lack of economic funds, etc) but to antivaxxer misinformation. Since one of the easiest way to find this misinformation are the SNS then it is perfectly valid to direct people to reliable sites with trustworthy information based on objective scientific data instead of those unreliable sources.

One very important detail is that this is still desirable even in the absence of effects. Much more when those effects can be identified.

the vaccine refusal rate in America is just 2 percent. I hardly think that warrants censorship of negative concerns about vaccines.

Negative concerns? of course not, but misleading and false information based on nothing but mistakes and repetition on lies? yes, of course. Anybody concerned deserve good information, the problem for antivaxxers is that the good information can prove their wild theories are al wrong so they want demonstrably false information to be presented as equal, it is not, so it should not be presented as such.

Name one case where that was true.

Every case, the simple absence of trials about the vaccine damage (and enormous quantities of money used every year for damage claims) demonstrate that this money was given without the claimants having to prove that the vaccine was the causative reason for the damage.

If this was not the case each case would have to go to trial and present scientific proof of the causative relationship between the vaccine and the damage. This does not happen.

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Except it hasn't. In all these years of what is being labeled as "misinformation" pretty much nothing has happened. Its not up to me to make a case before the original complainer has evidenced his claim. Obviously. I have next to nothing to work with unless the original complaint is evidenced.

Of course it is, vaccination rates have diminished, public perception of the safety and efficacy of vaccines also, outbreaks have originated between unvaccinated people. All these is readily available information that can only be attributed to misinformation from sources that willingly repeat falsehoods.

You only have to prove that this information is not real, then your argument that everything is exaggeration could be proved true.

I will again cite America's 2 percent vaccine refusal rate...which includes Amish groups that have ALWAYS refused vaccines. Is that your grave danger, or do you have some other numbers?

So you think a population that represent one tenth of a single percentage point is responsible for 2% of the vaccine refusal rate? that is not logical, specially because not all amish refuse vaccination, even if they have lower rates than the rest of the population thinking they are homogeneously not vaccinated is simply false.

The most important thing is that the refusal is because false reasons, imaginary phenomenon and mistaken relationships to natural occurrences. This reasons should be corrected, and one very valid measure to accomplish this is to direct people to reliable information instead of irresponsible lies. Nobody is censoring valid information, just making more difficult for people pandering lies to convince worried parents to join the antivaxxing cult.

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The article and you and Virusrex all fail to make a solid case for censorship.

I'm not obliged to.

But I am curious if you have any evidence for the claim that you chose to post in this thread. Virusrex asked you. I asked you. That's twice.

Do you have any?

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this money was given without the claimants having to prove that the vaccine was the causative reason for the damage.

Oh. I see where you are coming from. This is like kids in Fukushima get thyroid cancer after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but they can't prove directly that their cancer was caused by nuclear material ejected from the meltdowns, so you think their claims are groundless.

Measles inclusion body encephalitis is listed as a possible side effect of the MMR vaccines. On Nov. 20, 2017, over $100 million dollars was awarded in the vaccine court to someone who suffered this after getting an MMR vaccine....Case 16-119V. You said no winning case in the vaccine court has proof the vaccine was the cause of the injury. Well, I guess I need to ask you what proof you expect to see. How is such proof acquired? Can you name any case where this was proven directly?

So you think a population that represent one tenth of a single percentage point is responsible for 2% of the vaccine refusal rate?

Obviously I meant in the same country; the United States.

vaccination rates have diminished, public perception of the safety and efficacy of vaccines also, outbreaks have originated between unvaccinated people. All these is readily available information

For someone that demands specific data you are being awful general. Can you provide numbers proving your contention that perceptions have been damaged to the point that a significant effect has been felt....such as vaccine rates dropping? And can you prove this drop is a result of perception and nothing else?

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The effect of information skeptical of vaccines, whether true or false, is being greatly exaggerated for the sake of profits.

@wipeout I believe that was my claim and I stand by it. From what I see there is either zero or near zero effect of vaccine skepticism on vaccine rates. Therefore, the concern over information labeled as false is invalid. Therefore, worries about the spread of such "misinformation" causing widespread vaccine refusal are unfounded. You can either accept the number zero or close enough, provide a different number, or withdraw undecided. There are no other valid choices.

You are welcome to have a look at "Antivaxxers in The US Have Finally Stopped Gaining Ground, Study Suggests" in Science Alert. There you will find a graph showing non-medical vaccine refusal rates from 2011 to 2015. Those paltry changes are for all reasons, yes. But even if they were for anti-vaxx pages on the internet its still next to nothing. There is no case for censorship.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

You are welcome to have a look at "Antivaxxers in The US Have Finally Stopped Gaining Ground, Study Suggests" in Science Alert.

It does nothing to bolster your assertion that "The effect of information skeptical of vaccines, whether true or false, is being greatly exaggerated for the sake of profits."

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@wipeout And just what part of my assertion are you taking issue with and what is your counter-assertion exactly? The link and the graph show insignificant changes....do you agree or disagree? If you agree then how can insignificant changes in the vaccination refusal rates be a basis for censorship of web pages? If you disagree why? If this is about the exaggeration being for profit, then what other reason is there for exaggeration why is the profit motive invalid in your mind?

And if you are again going to take no stance but just sit there and take pot shots at my assertions I will say in advance that you failure to take a stance or provide contradictory information has done nothing against my assertion.

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This is like kids in Fukushima get thyroid cancer after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but they can't prove directly that their cancer was caused by nuclear material ejected from the meltdowns, so you think their claims are groundless.

Yes, but not because of the reasons you think, after Fukushima thyroid anomalies were found after actively searching for it, people uninformed screamed poison and a conspiracy to hide it, but in reality when the same active effort was made on a cohort of children completely unexposed it was found that they also had abnormalities in the same degree, so it was actually proved that it was completely independent to the nuclear plant disaster and just a consequence of searching more.

Measles inclusion body encephalitis is listed as a possible side effect of the MMR vaccines. On Nov. 20, 2017, over $100 million dollars was awarded in the vaccine court to someone who suffered this after getting an MMR vaccine....Case 16-119V.

And again, this is no proof that the vaccine caused the encephalitis, only that the vaccine could have been the cause, there is no other requirement for awarding money because the system is designed like that.

Well, I guess I need to ask you what proof you expect to see. How is such proof acquired? Can you name any case where this was proven directly?

Human cases? with a brain biopsy after neuroimaging changes consistent with primary measles encephalitis, acute post-measles encephalitis, measles inclusion body encephalitis or subacute sclerosing panencephalitis and positive PCR results specific for the virus using CSF samples.

Again, this is not necessary to produce in order to receive money and in some cases parents actively refuse the tests because it will not improve the treatment once a viral encephalitis has been diagnoses and because other pathogens can be found, which of course would prove that the vaccine was not the cause and disqualify them from receiving the money. The only requirement is that the case happens on the 3 months after vaccination.

One very important detail is that encephalitis after vaccination CAN be due to the vaccine, but scientific studies have proved that the incidence rate of encephalitis is not elevated in vaccinated children when compared with unvaccinated ones. That means that is also perfectly possible that any case would be present with or without the vaccine.

Obviously I meant in the same country; the United States.

Obviously I also meant the same, I even included the number of Amish in Canada as if they were living in the USA, in reality they represent even LESS than 0.1% of the population, it is still nonsense to think they are responsible of the 2% of refusal rates, even if they all refused vaccines, which they dont.

For someone that demands specific data you are being awful general. Can you provide numbers proving your contention that perceptions have been damaged to the point that a significant effect has been felt....such as vaccine rates dropping? And can you prove this drop is a result of perception and nothing else?

Did you read the WHO reports as I told you, what do you think was used as an argument in the discussions with Facebook? and did you even read my comment? For someone that is so focused in letting bad quality information to be treated the same as good quality one (and that has failed to provide any statistics of his own on 100% of what you are trying to use as an argument) you are awfully specific with details.

Do this mean that you recognize that sourced information that can be corroborated should be treated as more important than unsubstantiated claims in your opinion? Maybe directing people towards it when looking for information instead of letting them go for whatever trash an antivaxxer can be publishing?

Glad to see that you are getting the point I am trying to make.

I believe that was my claim and I stand by it.

In complete absence of proof? then why don't you accept the opposite point even in equivalent absence of proof? if two people say to you the opposite and nobody have proof does that mean that your claim has been proved false?

Those paltry changes are for all reasons, yes. But even if they were for anti-vaxx pages on the internet its still next to nothing. There is no case for censorship.

So you think that more childrend dying and becoming encephalitic is no reason? that is awfully cold for someone.

Also, if information can be proved false, mistaken, lies, it is still valuable to direct people away from it, even if it is before something bad happens. There is no rational point in promoting lies and mistakes as if it were the same as scientific information, it is not, and should not be treated the same.

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