Instagram has been quite under pressure when it comes to handling misinformation about vaccines. But starting this week, the company will start blocking hashtags that lead to fake information about vaccines. The global head of public policy at Instagram, Karina Newton stated in a press release that:
“If the hashtag was #vaccines1234, if it contained a high proportion of known vaccine misinformation, we would block that hashtag entirely.”
Previously, Instagram blocked hashtags like #vaccinescauseautism and #vaccinescauseaids, and the company will continue to block hashtags that anti-vaxxers use to spread false claims like the example above given by Newton.
When referring to fake news or false information, the “known vaccine misinformation” refers to the false claims that were verified by WHO, the CDC, and similar organizations, added Instagram. The platform will review the hashtag, and if it has a “high proportion” of misinformation, it will be banned.
What Happens When You Tap on a Banned Hashtag?
When you click/tap on a banned hashtag, you will get no results or find any content on Instagram. The same thing was done on Facebook to groups and pages that spread false information about vaccines.
Other social networks like Pinterest and even YouTube have cracked down on people that spread fake news or information about vaccines.
Instagram is also trying to combat other fake news, such as opioids, self-harm, and other harmful topics.
As for completely removing anti-vaccination information from its platform, Newton explained that the action is in its early stages and that “it’s going to take some time to continue the work on it.”
Instagram will also offer the chance to appeal to a post removal. Users can appeal the removed post, which will be sent to a different moderator for review. The appeals tool is now reviewing posts that contain nudity, but it will target other content in the next months, stated Instagram’s director of community operations, Bettina Fairman.