Instagram Blocks Anti-Vaccine Hashtags To Combat Misinformation

Instagram is blocking several anti-vaccine hashtags spreading misinformation across the platform.

Company spokeswoman Stephanie Otway confirmed to HuffPost on Friday that the app will block #vaccineskill, adding to its previous bans of #vaccinescauseautism, #vaccinescauseaids and #vaccinesarepoison, which Instagram announced on Thursday.

Otway said the measure is meant to combat false information in posts with those hashtags, as well as the hashtags themselves.

That means users will be unable to search for the hashtag, and clicking on the hashtag won’t bring up any results.

According to CNN, Instagram took action against the hashtag #vaccineskill after the outlet reported on Wednesday that it was still being featured as one of the top results in a search using the term “vaccines.”

To help set the standard for the hashtags that will be allowed, Instagram is using information from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Concerns have grown over so-called “anti-vax” content amid a measles outbreak that has continued to grow throughout the U.S, with 764 cases confirmed in 23 states this year.

In February, TechCrunch reported that YouTube would demonetize channels spreading anti-vax propaganda.

Following suit, Amazon pulled a handful of anti-vaccine films from its Prime video streaming platform in March after facing pressure from the public and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). That same month, Facebook unveiled its plan to tackle the issue, stating it would decrease the ranking of pages and groups promoting vaccine misinformation in addition to rejecting anti-vaccine advertising.

Despite new efforts on social media to stem the flow of harmful content, CNN reported that certain hashtags connected to anti-vaccine posts like #VaccinesHarm are still being used on Instagram.

Otway said the company would continue reviewing the hashtags.

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