Censoring news and discussion of vaccine issues are the goals of a new Facebook policy announced yesterday in a statement called “Combatting Vaccine Misinformation” attributed to Monika Bickert, Facebook’s Vice President of Global information. Facebook implies that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization will be their arbiters of what is “misinformation” or “hoaxes.” The World Health Organization recently identified “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the 10 leading threats to world health.
Facebook has been censoring for several years now the Autism Action Network and other groups and pages that present information about vaccines. The censoring has grown markedly in recent months. We have not been allowed to boosts posts, videos of interviews with elected officials who have vaccine-injured children have been rejected as “pornography”, distribution of posts to our followers has been throttled, organic growth has become nearly impossible. Other groups have had their videos disappear, or their entire Facebook presence disappeared without explanation.
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Please share your thoughts on this new censorship policy with Facebook at Monika Bikert’s official Facebook page. Please be polite:
Etsy and Pinterest already prohibit any discussion of vaccine issues. Google and its subsidiary Youtube are engaging in similar policies as Facebook. Many platforms are preventing out-of-favor producers from earning advertising revenue. Netflix stopped streaming the movie “Vaxxed” and other vaccine-related films. Facebook also owns Whatsapp and Instagram so we expect similar policies there.
Here is the statement:
We are working to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook by reducing its distribution and providing people with authoritative information on the topic. We are starting by taking a series of steps:
We will reduce the ranking of groups and Pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations in News Feed and Search. These groups and Pages will not be included in recommendations or in predictions when you type into Search.
When we find ads that include misinformation about vaccinations, we will reject them. We also removed related targeting options, like “vaccine controversies.” For ad accounts that continue to violate our policies, we may take further action, such as disabling the ad account.
We won’t show or recommend content that contains misinformation about vaccinations on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages.
We are exploring ways to share educational information about vaccines when people come across misinformation on this topic.
How This Will Work
Leading global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes. If these vaccine hoaxes appear on Facebook, we will take action against them.
For example, if a group or Page admin posts this vaccine misinformation, we will exclude the entire group or Page from recommendations, reduce these groups and Pages’ distribution in News Feed and Search, and reject ads with this misinformation.
We also believe in providing people with additional context so they can decide whether to read, share, or engage in conversations about information they see on Facebook. We are exploring ways to give people more accurate information from expert organizations about vaccines at the top of results for related searches, on Pages discussing the topic, and on invitations to join groups about the topic. We will have an update on this soon.
We are fully committed to the safety of our community and will continue to expand on this work.
Please share this message with friends and family, and please post to social networks, especially Facebook.