When it comes to vaccines the internet is full of sources. But not all of those are reliable, and it can be difficult for the layperson to know which sources are backed by science. In an effort to curtail the spread of misinformation, Pinterest users looking for sources on vaccines will now be presented with articles from “authoritative” public health organizations.
Available in a number of languages, the new sources will come from organizations such as the World Health Organizations (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“As we continue to tackle health misinformation, we remove it and the accounts that spread it from our service,” Pinterest wrote on their blog. "But we also want to bring expert content onto Pinterest. We know we aren’t medical experts, which is why we’re working with professionals to inspire Pinners with reliable information about health.”
Last year the social media company completely shut down search results related to vaccines, citing the danger of misinformation. Now the site is showing the validated sources.
“We’re taking this approach because we believe that showing vaccine misinformation alongside resources from public health experts isn't responsible,” the blog reads.
This isn’t the first public health initiative that Pinterest has been involved in recently. In July it teamed up with researchers from Stanford Lab for Mental Health Innovation to create a tool aimed at giving users more resources to deal with stress and anxiety.
WHY IT MATTERS
Diseases that were once irradiated by vaccines are now beginning to crop up again. Since January, the CDC has recorded 1,215 individual cases of measles in 30 states — the most cases the country has seen since 1992. The agency reports that the majority of people who contracted the disease were not vaccinated against measles. In 2000, WHO declared that the US had eliminated measles; however, CDC Director Dr. Nancy Messonnier has gone on the record with CNN saying there is a reasonable chance the country could lose this status.
THE LARGER TREND
This isn’t the only social media platform to address misinformation around vaccines. In March, Facebook and Instagram announced plans to reduce the prominence of (but not outright ban) certain flagged groups, pages, and search results. In the same announcement Facebook also took a firm stance against advertising content including false statements about vaccinations.