Despite being discredited by every reputable scientific and medical source, the anti-vaccination movement’s unfortunately still gained steam in recent years. This is in spite of all the risks and dangers of going without vaccinations, as shown by a recent spike in measles cases. Never mind that even if vaccines did cause autism (which they don’t), autism isn’t a dangerous disease or condition, unlike polio or measles. In short, the anti-vaccination movement’s not only foolish, but also dangerous from a public health safety standpoint.
Fortunately, it looks like some technology companies have decided to do something about stopping (or trying to stop) this spread of misinformation.
Pinterest isn’t as prominent a social network as Facebook or Twitter, but it has a dedicated user base. That said, the network’s owners have decided that it’s worth protecting its users against misinformation about vaccines. Thus, last week Pinterest announced it’s banning all anti-vaccination material. This includes pinned anti-vaxxer material, as well as any searches for such terms.
While this method has some flaws (shared content from Facebook might pose a challenge, according to website Fast Company), it’s definitely a major step for a social network. It’s also better than social networks like Twitter, which is doing pretty much zilch.
On a semi-related note, I’ve revived my own Pinterest page, for those interested.
YouTube’s taking some steps as well, albeit not ones as drastic as Pinterest. The streaming video site’s announced it’s removing advertising revenue from anti-vaccination videos, as well as removing such from the “up next” related posts feature.
It’s a good thing that anti-vaxxers will no longer make money off of anti-vaccination videos. However, it’s not quite the same as removing such videos altogether.
Amazon’s also pulled anti-vaccination content from its Prime Video streaming service. This came mostly after a Congressperson complained about such videos being present.
That said, while Amazon’s dropped anti-vaccination videos from Prime Video, one can still buy DVDs about such through the regular Amazon store.
It’s unknown if and when other tech companies will make similar steps. I wouldn’t hold my breath for companies leaning hard (however tunnel-visioned) on “free speech!” to do anything, so I’d imagine Reddit and Twitter anti-vaxxers are safe. Facebook, meanwhile, is in the news (again), this time cited as a source of such misinformation.
That said, growing pressure and backlash against the anti-vaccination movement might see even these social networks give anti-vaxxers the same fate as InfoWars.
Photo by Mike Mozart (Flickr / CC BY)