Instagram to start blocking hashtags with vaccine misinformation
A measles outbreak is spreading across a Washington county known for choosing not to vaccinate its children, and health officials have declared a public health emergency. USA TODAY
Instagram will start blocking any hashtags spreading misinformation about vaccines, becoming the latest internet platform to crack down on bad health information.
When a hashtag deemed to return misinformation is blocked, search results will no longer appear when the tag is clicked, and the terms are even blocked from being searched on Instagram.
Instagram made the announcement at a press event in San Francisco, according to The Verge.
On Wednesday, a report from CNN disputed Instagram and parent company Facebook's ability to keep misinformation on vaccines under control on the platform. The report said anyone searching the term "vaccines" could turn up multiple posts and hashtags on the anti-vax movement.
Instagram is the latest company to crack down on false news related to vaccines. In February, Facebook said it took steps to reduce fake health news and anti-vaccination posts amid a measles outbreak in Washington state.
Other sites have similarly cracked down, including Pinterest, which blocked all searches related to vaccines last year. Both YouTube and Amazon have halted anti-vaccination related content, while GoFundMe revealed in March it would block all campaigns tied to vaccine misinformation.
The trend of people choosing not to vaccinate has become a global health threat in 2019, the World Health Organization reported. Also, the CDC recognized that the number of children who aren't being vaccinated by 24 months old has been gradually increasing.
Some parents choose not to vaccinate because of the discredited belief vaccines are linked to autism. The CDC said that there is no link and that there are no ingredients in vaccines that could cause autism.
Ashley May contributed to this report. Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.