WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- On Thursday, social media platform Instagram announced it will now block hashtags that promote vaccine misinformation.
- However, other hashtags and content endorsed by anti-vaccination accounts still thrive on the platform.
- Instagram’s policies changed after CNN Business reported on Wednesday, revealing that, though Instagram had stated it was blocking hashtags like #VaccinescauseAIDS, the hashtag #VaccinesKill was still being used on the platform.
Instagram announced on Thursday that it will now block other hashtags that promote vaccine misinformation.
Instagram’s policies changed after a CNN Business report revealed on Wednesday that though Instagram had said it was blocking hashtags like #VaccinescauseAIDS, there are other hashtags like #VaccinesKill that was still up on the social media platform. It even appeared as a top result in a search for “vaccines” after anti-vax accounts.
The app confirmed #VaccinesKill is now a blocked hashtag, meaning it will no longer populate with any results when users click on it.
When users still click on #VaccinesKill, they will be greeted with a note that reads, “Posts for #vaccineskill have been limited because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.”
Despite the blockage, hashtags like #VaccinesHarm still thrive and well on the app and showing a significant amount of anti-vax content and vaccine misinformation in their top results. This is according to a Thursday’s review by CNN Business. However, Instagram’s algorithms for the neutral hashtag #Vaccines were also polluted by anti-vaccine misinformation.
Asked by CNN Business why #VaccinesHarm is not blocked under its new policies, an Instagram spokesperson said the company is currently reviewing hashtags and will block ones that feature a certain amount of vaccine misinformation.
“Vaccines are extremely safe. Serious adverse reactions are very, very rare,” Daniel Salmon, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety, told CNN Business Wednesday. “It’s very unfortunate that there would be such a hashtag because it’s going to scare people,”
Experts have repeatedly and consistently crushed the most common anti-vax myth, that there is a connection between vaccines and the development of autism in children. American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and other reputable organizations say that vaccination for children is crucial to public health.
Officials are concerned that anti-vax content and misinformation spreading online can discourage people from getting vaccinated or leave them vulnerable to contracting potentially deadly diseases such as measles, CNN reports.
In the U.S., the number of measles cases reported this year had increased to 764 as of Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.