Instagram Cracking Down on Anti-Vaxxers Who Are Spreading Misinformation Through Hashtags
It’s hard enough being a parent without being bombarded with misinformation about vaccines. Especially when you’re sleep deprived and pulled in so many directions from your kiddos, it’s hard to know what to believe especially when you see what may seem like legitimate reasons to become an anti-vaxxer on various social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Multiple studies have proven that vaccines are safe, yet there are still many people who are very loudly sharing their strong beliefs that vaccines are anything but safe. Then there are other people who oppose vaccines for religious reasons.
Whatever the reason, if the information is false and misleading, some social media platforms plan to crack down on perpetuating the spread of these lies and rumors.
Facebook previously announced that they would not specifically block misinformation regarding vaccines, but they would make sure those results appeared lower in the news feed.
Now, Instagram is saying they’re going to try to prevent the spread of vaccine misinformation too. For this specific platform, they’re going to crack down on hashtags.
The company announced that if a hashtag returns a large amount of misinformation regarding vaccines, then that particular hashtag will be blocked. The company has not released information regarding a specific percentage of how much misinformation is too much because they don’t want anyone to try to take advantage of this information to trick their system.
This does not mean that Instagram will be blocking all hashtags that bring up a lot of anti-vaccine information. If the information has not been proven false by organizations like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, it will be allowed.
If someone tries to search for a blocked hashtag, a pop-up message will appear that will direct the user to other information about the subject. The company is still finalizing the exact wording for this message.
While Instagram is already enforcing this new policy, Karina Newton, Instagram’s global head of public policy, said, “It’s going to take some time to continue the work on it.” Basically, don’t expect all hashtags that return a lot of misinformation to get blocked right away, but they are working on it.
What do you think about Instagram’s decision to block certain hashtags that bring up vaccine misinformation? Do you think the company should do more to prevent the spread of misinformation, or do you think this is an appropriate step?