Pinterest has started displaying information from public health organizations for keywords like “measles” or “vaccine safety.” The move comes as part of the social media’s efforts against health misinformation, which earlier included blocking of vaccination-related search terms. The idea of these new changes is to close the “data void” that results from false information being spread more widely than accurate information.
“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,” wrote Ifeoma Ozoma, Pinterest’s public policy and social impact manager. “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.”
Pinterest search results for health-related keywords will now display information from the World Health Organization, the Vaccine Safety Net (WHO’s resource that provides vaccine information in different languages), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control.
Furthermore, an information card on top of the results informs users that “pins about this topic often violate our Community Guidelines, which prohibit harmful medical misinformation. Because of this, we’ve limited search results to Pins from internationally-recognized health organizations. If you’re looking for medical advice, please contact a healthcare provider.” Users also won’t see recommendations or comments on Pins in these search results.
The new feature is available in English on Pinterest’s website and iPhone and Android apps, and will be expanded into other languages.
Pinterest had to do something about anti-vaccine content on its platform. In 2016, researchers found that the social media platform has become one of the most active social media platforms in terms of stemming the spread of misinformation about vaccines. In 2017, it began banning pins with “anti-vaccination advice,” which have always been prohibited by its advertising policies.
Staying on the top of Pinterest’s health-related efforts, earlier this year the company launched wellness activities for people in distress.