Instagram Plans To Start Blocking Hashtags Promoting Vaccine Misinformation
Photo Credit: London, UK - July 30, 2018: The buttons of the photo app Instagram, surrounded by WhatsApp, Facebook, Messages and other apps on the screen of an iPhone.

Instagram Plans To Start Blocking Hashtags Promoting Vaccine Misinformation

Across social media, vaccine misinformation continues to be a huge issue. Earlier this week, CNN reported that despite Facebook’s pledge to fight vaccine misinformation on its platforms, Instagram still didn’t have the problem under control.

The report said that anyone who searched the word “vaccines” would be greeted with posts from anti-vax accounts and hashtags.

At a San Francisco Press event on Thursday, Instagram announced that it would begin blocking hashtags advertising “verifiably false” information regarding vaccinations. The new policy will also extend Instagram’s ban policy to hashtags that may seem innocent but are also spreading bad information.

“If the hashtag was #vaccines1234, if it contained a high proportion of known vaccine misinformation, we would block that hashtag entirely,” said Karina Newton, Instagram’s global head of public policy, according to The Verge.

In the past, Instagram has blocked hashtags promoting false information, Engadget reported. For example, hashtags like #vaccinescauseautism and #vaccinescauseaids were blocked.

Extending the ban to look into the content of hashtags is vital in order to actually counter misinformation.

Overall, Instagram seems to be doing a lot more recently to address harmful content and accounts on its site. This week, Instagram announced it was working on new rules for banning accounts that will roll out “soon.”

As Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, continues to struggle with the same vaccine misinformation issue, it will be interesting to see who manages to get it under control.