How Pinterest Is Fighting Back Against Anti-Vaxxers On Social Media

By Staff Reporter, Parent Herald March 23, 03:49 pm

Anti-vaxxers have become a prominent force in recent years, much to the chagrin of medical professionals and everyday people who have grown to detest smallpox, polio, and a range of other illnesses which we've almost exterminated and forgotten entirely thanks to the wonder of vaccines. Nowhere were anti-vaxxers gaining more power than Pinterest, a popular social media platform which quickly took some admirable steps to fight back against anti-vaxxers who were using their website for evil.

Here's how Pinterest is fighting back against anti-vaxxers on social media, and why other leading social media platforms should learn from the company's clever commitment to fighting for public health.

Viral diseases are going viral

The primary reason that viral diseases like smallpox are in the news despite the fact that we nearly eliminated these plagues years or even decades ago is that modern social media platforms are acting as disinformation hubs when it comes to the topic of vaccination. Vaccines are safe, reliable, and have been encouraged by effectively every major government and public health initiative in the world precisely because they help cut down on the amount of people, oftentimes children, who are killed or suffer terribly at the hands of disease. As the CDC has made abundantly clear, there is no link between vaccines and autism, and yet such ludicrous claims go viral and spread on the basis of human fear.

Despite the fact that the medical science proving vaccine are safe is overwhelming, a number of conspiracy theorists continue to popularize the idea that vaccines are potentially harmful to your children. Popular social media platforms effectively act as railway stations where anti-vaxxers congregate before traveling all over the web, utilizing the information ecosystem of the modern digital world for their own nefarious ends. Fighting the spread of this disinformation is anything but easy - despite the fact that scientists and journalists have worked hand-in-hand to publicize accurate information about vaccines for years, high profile politicians and major celebrities continue to publicly endorse the absurd notion that vaccines are harmful.

Pinterest has started fighting back and is seeing some success in doing so. Social media has been proven to help disinformation spread to ignorant audiences, especially when it comes to medical hoaxes and elaborate conspiracy theories. Understanding this, the people running Pinterest made a tough decision to refuse ad revenue from anti-vax advertisers. Then, the social media platform went a step further and outright blocked search results about vaccines to protect users from misinformation, as a number of high profile users and posts were unfortunately convincing many to believe in this unhealthy conspiracy.

Social media companies need to step up

Pinterest has demonstrated something that should have been obvious all along but is only just now become appreciated; social media channels have a responsibility to monitor the content they profit from. Companies like Facebook and Twitter have endured scandalous headlines about data breaches and hacking attempts for years without ever taking serious steps to protect the public from professional equipment. Now that millions of users around the world are clamoring for action, however, they're beginning to wake up and realize they simply have to police the content that proliferates across their channels or they'll suffer the consequences.

The most important aspect of this entire development isn't even centered on Pinterest, either, but rather on Facebook, the world's most popular and profitable social media platform. Pinterest's crackdown on anti-vaxxers is now pressuring Facebook to take similar action, which is particularly important since Facebook is regularly the hub of deception and misinformation campaigns aimed at misleading or outright harming the public. As media and public awareness surrounding Pinterest's admirable decision grows, popular channels like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will be forced to pick a side on the vaccine debate. Hopefully, they'll side with science.

Parents of newborn children should speak to their medical professionals about the immense benefits of having their kids vaccinated. Those lacking in motivation can spur themselves to action by reviewing a helpful list of diseases you almost forget about (thanks to vaccines) which illustrates just how much of a modern marvel this medical practice really is. Pinterest is fighting back against anti-vaxxers by refusing to give them a platform to spread misinformation and is doing so with the support of billions who accurately understand that vaccines don't cause autism, and indeed are a vital part of public health.

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