13.05.2019
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Vaccination wrestlers are being driven from social networks

Instagram blocks hashtags against vaccination

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Instagram struggles with misinformation about vaccinations by blocking hashtags that show false posts on a controversial topic.

Anti-vaccination messages on social media are considered one of the reasons for the decline in vaccination rates in recent years, when an estimated 169 million children worldwide missed the first dose of measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017.

Instagram already bans obvious hashtags, through which antivaccination activists are spreading false information. Labels #vaccinescauseautism (vaccines causes autism), #vaccinescauseaids (vaccines entail AIDS) and #vaccinesarepoison (vaccine is poison) have been got under the block.  Now the policy of the social network is expanding hashtags, which may seem at first glance neutral and harmless.

Misleading reports of vaccination on social media are believed to be one of the reasons why vaccination rates have been declined in recent years

For example, the hashtag #vaccines1234 (vaccines 1234) does not contain anything alarming in its formulation, but if the platform finds that this hashtag is used in a number of messages to promote vaccine misinformation, it will be added to the block list. When a hashtag is blocked, users don’t get results when they search for it on the social network.

Instagram has not specified a limit on the number of times after which the hashtag will be blocked. Instead, the platform said it would ban the hashtag in case the content displayed on its page contained «a certain amount» of fake anti-vaccination information.

False statements, such as #vaccinescauseaids and #vaccinesarepoison has already been banned and do not show the search results in Instagram

Instagram has taken these measures after recent Facebook pleas. The company announced that it «is considering additional measures» to address anti-vaccination messages after concerns about a controversial topic that appears in the groups and on the Facebook pages.

At that time, the company recognized that the challenge was complex as it struggled to strike a balance between freedom of expression and the security of its users. Despite this, the social network said it will continue to fight the problem.

Last month health Minister Matt Hancock said he «can’t rule anything out» when was asked if unvaccinated children should be kept out of school. NHS England Executive Director Simon Stevens also described the vaccine’s abandonment as a «growing public health time bomb».

In addition to banning hashtags, Instagram is considering showing educational pop-up messages to people looking for vaccine-related hoaxes. The platform is already showing similar messages to people who are interested in information about drugs and self-harm.

Instagram plans to show educational pop-up messages to doubting people

In February, YouTube stopped showing ads on many popular channels that promote anti-vaccination conspiracy theories. He made this move after protests from firms who have discovered that their advertising works, along with the controversial video.

The world health organization (WHO) said that in 2019 anti-vaccination became the «top 10 global health threats».

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