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Popular Social Media Platform Hits Back at Anti-Vaxxers

It all starts with the search results.

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Search “vaccine” on Pinterest and all you’ll get is a message that reads, “Sorry, we couldn’t find any Pins for this search.” That’s because the social media platform is cracking down on anti-vaxx posts in an attempt to prevent the spread of health misinformation.

“We’re a place where people come to find inspiration, and there is nothing inspiring about harmful content,” Ifeoma Ozoma, one of Pinterest’s public policy and social impact managers, told The Guardian. “Our view on this is we’re not the platform for that.”

Following a shocking 2016 study that revealed that almost 75 percent of pins related to vaccines were negative, Pinterest has implemented a slew of new policies that, according to its community guidelines, ban the “promotion of false cures for terminal or chronic illnesses and anti-vaccination advice.”

Some of those changes, which began in the fall of 2018, include prohibiting users from reposting images or links that have already been reported or removed. Pinterest has also blocked any pins from certain anti-vaxx or alternative health websites, like Mercola.com, for instance.

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“If there’s a website that is dedicated in whole to spreading health misinformation, we don’t want that on our platform, so we can block on the URL level,” Ozoma said to The Guardian.

Pinterest is also banning boards from popular anti-vaxxers like Larry Cook (the man behind the website “Stop Mandatory Vaccination”) and the National Vaccine Information Center.

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The platform’s decision to take a stand against the anti-vaxx movement is highly relevant in light of the recent measles outbreak in the U.S. And it’s one that Ozoma hopes sets a precedent for sites like Facebook and YouTube.

Speaking to The Guardian, Ozoma explained, “This has not been a focus for other platforms. We’ve been working on this since 2017, but we’ve been kind of alone on it. Hopefully there’s more discussion going forward.”