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Facebook debuts pop-ups with vaccines to stop the spread of misinformation



CNN – A new feature to combat the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation is being introduced on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, announced Wednesday that educational pop-ups will appear on social media platforms when a user searches for vaccine-related content, visits vaccine-related groups and pages, or presses a hashtag related with the vaccine, on Instagram.

If the user is based in the United States, the pop-up window will link the user to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reliable vaccine information. If the user is outside the United States, they will be linked to the World Health Organization.

The CDC praised Facebook's latest move to stop misinformation from spreading on its platform.

"We know that parents often turn to social media to access health information and connect with other parents, and it can be difficult to determine what is accurate and what are the credible sources of information," the spokeswoman said. CDC's Kristen Nordlund in an email Wednesday.

Fighting "vaccine myths and misinformation is a shared responsibility and we applaud these efforts," she said in part.

This launch coincides with the measles epidemic affecting the United States, reaching more than 1

,200 confirmed cases in 31 states since the beginning of the year. Outbreaks have also spread around the world, causing four European countries to lose their status without a hitch.

Public health experts have cited the content of anti-vaccination online as an important role for fewer people who have been vaccinated against certain diseases, leading to outbreaks of measles and other diseases.

"The World Health Organization and Facebook have been holding discussions for several months to ensure that people have access to reputable vaccine information and reduce the incidence of inaccuracies," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a written statement on Wednesday .

'Vaccine misinformation is a major global health threat that can reverse decades' progress in combating preventable diseases. Many debilitating and deadly diseases can be effectively prevented by vaccines, "he said. "Major digital organizations have a responsibility to their users – to ensure that they have access to vaccine and health facts. It would be great to see social and search platforms come together to support their combined reach. "

Just last week, Pinterest's social media platform announced that demand for measles, vaccine safety, and other vaccine-related content will only result in results from public health organizations. The company said the new search is now available in English on its website and mobile apps.

Earlier this year, Amazon removed anti-vaccine documentaries from its Amazon Prime Video streaming service and YouTube downloaded ads from displaying videos promoting anti-vaccine content.

Facebook has previously downgraded the groups and pages that distribute vaccine misinformation in their News Feed and Search options. Educational pop-ups are now another step in the effort to tackle the spread of misinformation.

"We want people to get accurate information, especially about health," Cheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, told CNN chief medical officer Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an interview in June.

"When things are hateful or things are violent, we take them down. But when things are wrong, we dramatically reduce it and show the other side of the story, and that's because the debate has to happen," she said. " The way you can say something is wrong is that you have to be able to say 'Here's the real side of history' and we want this debate to happen – so that people get educated and understand that science is settled. "

The CNN-Wire ™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner company. All rights reserved.

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