Facebook and Instagram have rolled out a new feature in a bid to combat the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation, which has been driving outbreaks of illnesses worldwide.
Users To Be Connected To Health Authority Sites
Facebook, which purchased Instagram in 2012, revealed on Wednesday that popup windows will appear when Facebook and Instagram users search for vaccine-related content, tap a vaccine-related hashtag, and visit vaccine-related groups and pages.
Users based in the United States will see a popup window pointing to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reliable information on vaccines. Those outside of the United States, on the other hand, will be connected to the World Health Organization.
Facebook launched the new feature as the United States and many countries worldwide battle with measles outbreak. The United States already had more than 1,200 confirmed cases of measles this year. Some European countries are also losing their measles-free status.
Public health authorities blame anti-vaccination content online. They said misinformation has resulted in fewer people getting vaccinated against preventable diseases, which resulted in outbreaks of illnesses.
Health authorities welcome Facebook's new feature.
"Major digital organizations have a responsibility to their users -- to ensure that they can access facts about vaccines and health," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in statement. "It would be great to see social and search platforms come together to leverage their combined reach."
CDC also commended Facebook's latest move. CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said that parents often turn to social media for health information and to connect with other parents, but it can be difficult to know what is accurate and who are the credible sources of information.
Tech Companies Taking Action Against Anti-vaccine Content
It isn't just Facebook that is taking action to combat vaccine-related misinformation. Last week, Pinterest also announced that searchers for "vaccine safety," "measles," and other vaccine-related content would only show results from public health organizations.
Amazon removed anti-vaccine documentaries from the Amazon Prime Video streaming service while YouTube videos no longer shows ads that promote anti-vaccine content.