Pinterest Keeps Tackling Health Misinformation -- Should Others Follow?

source: Pixabay

In its next attempt to combat fake news and misinformation, Pinterest announced Wednesday that health-related searches on the platform would be redirected to recognized organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the Vaccine Safety Net or the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 Pinterest would also display an information card on top of health-related search results, advising users to seek medical advice by a healthcare provider. Furthermore, Pinterest would also ban advertisements, recommendations, and comments on those pages.

For the moment, Pinterest is focused on vaccine-related search terms, but it keeps evolving. It would gradually expand its list of medical keywords for which it would eventually also block medical misinformation.

For Ifeoma Ozoma, public policy manager for Pinterest, barring comments was a crucial step. In her view, it does not make sense to redirect people to a trustworthy pin and to read the potentially dangerous recommendations or comments full of misinformation.

It would not be responsible from our side to display misinformation alongside resources from internationally recognized and reputable institutions, said Ozoma.

The updated search features are now available in English on Pinterest's desktop site and iPhone and Android apps. It would roll out in other languages as soon as possible. 

Pinterest also added that it would continue its close collaboration with internationally-recognized health organizations to help them create eye-catching, science-based images about vaccinations that could have higher chances of being shared.

The World Health Organization (WHO) praised the efforts of Pinterest to combat misinformation about vaccinations. In an official statement, WHO said Pinterest was the only one social media to provide science-based information about vaccines to its users.

After it was flooded with anti-vaccine pins in 2016, Pinterest became a pioneer in terms of stemming the spread of misinformation about vaccines. Moreover, in 2017, the social media platform went even further to ban pins containing anti-vaccination advice. 

It is not the first brave decision Pinterest takes to obscure users' content. If you know type keywords such as ''suicide,'' or ''bulimia,'' it would ask you whether you have an eating disorder or it would redirect you to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Other social platforms also adopted new policies to put an end to anti-vaccine misinformation. Amazon removed several anti-vaccine propaganda movies from its streaming service. YouTube went further to add anti-vaccine misinformation to the category of ''harmful'' videos that are not promoted by its recommendation algorithm. 

Facebook limited the reach of groups and pages promoting anti-vaccine movements. It also works on new ways to display accurate information at the top of specific search results.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the statement that social media platforms should do more to ensure their users have access to credible medical sources?