Pinterest is taking steps to help Pinners avoid misinformation about vaccines and related topics on its platform.
When users search for terms such as “measles” and “vaccine safety,” they will see results from public health organizations including the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Vaccine Safety Net, which was established by the WHO.
Public policy and social impact manager Ifeoma Ozoma wrote in a blog post last week that the new search experience is available globally in English on the web and via Pinterest’s iOS and Android applications, adding, “Ultimately, we want to bring authoritative results to more Pinners in more places, because there’s nothing inspiring about harmful health misinformation.”
She said Pinterest decided last year to stop showing results for searches related to vaccines, and Pinners who conduct those searches now and see content from the public health organizations listed above will not see recommendations or comments on those Pins, nor will they be served ads during the search experience.
Ozoma wrote, “As we continue to tackle health misinformation, we remove it and the accounts that spread it from our service. But we also want to bring expert content onto Pinterest. We know we aren’t medical experts, which is why we’re working with professionals to inspire Pinners with reliable information about health.”
On the topic of measles specifically, Ozoma said the WHO recently revealed that the U.K., Albania, the Czech Republic and Greece are no longer measles-free, and the CDC reported that the U.S. is experiencing the largest number of reported measles cases since 1992 and since the 2000 declaration that the virus had been eliminated.
She concluded, “What we and others have observed is an enthusiasm gap between those creating and disseminating harmful health misinformation and those creating resources rooted in settled science. Generally, there’s more accessible and visually compelling health misinformation than science-based journal articles on the virtues of vaccinations. In addition, we’ve found that some purveyors of health misinformation have a financial incentive. For instance, some sell products and potions, and others use spammer tactics and clickbait to drive traffic to their own sites where they monetize.”