Facebook has been under a large amount pressure from the media and congressmen such as Adam Schiff to clean up their sites anti-vaccination content. It was only a few days ago we saw Amazon remove all books containing negativity towards Vaccines, this action was taken following a letter from Adam Schiff stating his concerns about declining vaccination rates:
“As a Member of Congress who is deeply concerned about declining vaccination rates, I am requesting additional information on the steps that you currently take to provide medically accurate information on vaccinations to your users, and to encourage you to consider additional steps you can take to address this growing problem,” Schiff wrote in the letter. “I was pleased to see YouTube’s recent announcement that it will no longer recommend videos that violate its community guidelines, such as conspiracy theories or medically inaccurate videos, and encourage further action to be taken related to vaccine misinformation.” [source]
The announcement from Facebook came yesterday where they stated that they are ‘working to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook by reducing its distribution and providing people with authoritative information on the topic’.
The first steps they are planning to take are as follows:
- Reduce the ranking of groups and Pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations in News Feed and Search. These groups and Pages will not be included in recommendations or in predictions when you type into Search.
- Ads that include misinformation about vaccinations, will be rejected. Targeting options for Ads like “vaccine controversies” will be removed. Ad accounts that continually violate the policies, may have their account disabled.
- Misinformation about Vaccines will no longer show or be recommended on Instagram Explore or Hashtag pages.
- Promote Information that Discredits anti-vaccination information
The original announcement and the steps as they’ve described them can be found on their Website.
Control the Narrative
So simply but Facebook is banning all adverts which contain anything negative about Vaccines and while they are not banning groups, pages and articles on the subject, they are censoring them using an algorithmic filter to ensure minimum visibility on the platform.
The problem lies in what is defined as misinformation, who decides when information is accurate or inaccurate?
Well the World Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are, thats who.
‘Leading global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes. If these vaccine hoaxes appear on Facebook, we will take action against them.’ [source]
Does this sound like an unbiased approach to tackling misinformation to you?
In a nutshell this is censorship. This is about controlling the narrative in a way that fits their own beliefs or agenda. If we can no longer have public discourse on social media about important topics such as Vaccines then the narrative has been hijacked, science has been hijacked and ultimately in this case our lives are being hijacked.
You also need to seriously think about where this is heading into the future, what else may be censored or banned, is it too hard to imagine anti-government speech to be censored, or information contradicting accepted mainstream history. All information is continually up for debate, without this process we would have not made it as far as we have as a species.
“Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”– Potter Stewart