Facebook has recently been facing calls to crack down on anti-vax groups.
Over the last number of years, the growing movement against vaccinations has gathered pace, with social media aiding the spread of fraudulent claims about the effects of vaccinations on human health.
Now, according to a new report published by The Guardian, Facebook is facing pressure from multiple health agencies and officials demanding more restrictions to their platform from dozens of anti-vaccine groups promoting pseudoscience, propaganda, conspiracy theories, and false dangers about vaccinations.
The existence of these groups allows misinformation about vaccines to spread without anyone countering it. One group, Stop Mandatory Vaccination, has more than 150,000 members. Another group claims that large doses of Vitamin C can help to “heal” people from vaccine damage, despite vaccines being safe.
The Guardian report notes that health experts are imploring Facebook to do more to counter the proliferation of such views in an unchallenged manner within closed groups.
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said: “Facebook should prioritize dealing with the threat to human health when falsehoods and misinformation are shared. This isn’t just self-harm, it’s community harm.”
The Guardian also found that the social network has accepted thousands of advertising dollars from groups that target parents with fake, false ads meant to reduce trust in vaccines.
While Facebook has been dealing with the widespread issue of misinformation for some time now, it generally centers around fake news relating to politics or issues of race and immigration. This example, however, shows that the spread of misinformation about healthcare is also an increasingly concerning issue.
Doctors believe that Facebook should have the same standards for health information that pharmaceutical companies and advertisers do. At the very least, Facebook needs to do more to shut down these harmful groups, or remove misinformation, doctors and advocates say.