Instagram is moving to block anti-vaxxer hashtags

Instagram is taking steps to limit the spread of anti-vaccine related hashtags on its platform.

The social networking app is following the lead of its parent company Facebook, which banned so-called ‘anti-vaxxer’ groups devoted to the controversial theory.

The idea that childhood vaccines cause ailments rather than cure preventable diseases has been doing the rounds for a while. The head of NHS England recently warned that ‘vaccination deniers’ were gaining traction on social media as part of a ‘fake news’ movement.

Now Instagram says it’s trying to tackle a slew of hashtags surrounding the anti-vaccine movement that have cropped up in recent months.

Other platforms have also taken action on the subject – YouTube has removed adverts from anti-vaccination videos and Pinterest has taken action to block vaccination searches.

In an official blog post, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management Monika Bickert said: ‘We are working to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook by reducing its distribution and providing people with authoritative information on the topic.

‘Leading global health organisations, such as the World Health Organisation 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.’

‘We are exploring ways to give people more accurate information from expert organisations about vaccines at the top of results for related searches, on pages discussing the topic, and on invitations to join groups about the topic.’

In January, a study by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) warned social media was a ‘breeding ground for misleading information and negative messaging around vaccination’ and more action needed to be taken to challenge claims made against vaccines.

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