The social network Instagram will block hashtags being used to spread “verifiably false” information about vaccine, such as #vaccinescauseautism.
Instagram will not take action against people or accounts who identify themselves as anti-vaxxers.
However, it will work to limit the spread of provably false claims because these have real-world harmful effects on the public.
False claims such as #vaccinescauseaids and #vaccinesarepoison are already banned and return no search results on Instagram.
For example, if the hashtag #vaccines1234 started to be used on false claims, it would also be blocked.
Even neutral or pro-vaccination hashtags such as #vaccines or #vaccineswork are co-opted by anti-vaxxers to spread false claims.
Instagram is also thinking about showing educational pop-up messages to people who search for vaccine-related hoaxes.
The platform already shows pop-up messages to people searching for drugs or browsing self-harm topics.
The World Health Organization said anti-vaccination views were a “top 10 global health threat” in 2019.