Pinterest vaccine searches will only go to public health resources

Pinterest is taking action on misinformation about vaccines going around on the internet.

The social media company says searches for 'measles,' 'vaccine safety,' and other vaccine-related content will only return results from public health organizations.

That includes institutions such as the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the WHO-established Vaccine Safety Net.

"We're taking this approach because we believe that showing vaccine misinformation alongside resources from public health experts isn't responsible," Ifeoma Ozoma, Pinterest's public policy and social impact manager said in a statement. "As we continue to tackle health misinformation, we remove it and the accounts that spread it from our service."

Last year, Pinterest stopped showing vaccine-related search results, to stop the spread of misinformation.

And no recommendations, comments, or ads will appear on Pins.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said earlier this week that social media changes could "help us turn the tide" on vaccine misinformation.

Messonnier said she and her colleagues were surprised by the influence social media had on vaccines.

"I do think it caught us all a little flat-footed -- how quickly the myths and misinformation spread," she said. "Of course, I wish I had 20/20 hindsight and had figured this out a couple of years ago."

The U.S. is likely to lose its 'measles free' status in October because of ongoing measles outbreaks in New York.

The CDC is expected to formally make the announcement next week.

A WHO statement said social media is how many people get their information and "they will likely be major sources of information for the next generations of parents."

It noted that vaccine misinformation has spread on social media in many countries, "including during critical vaccination campaigns like those for polio in Pakistan or yellow fever in South America."

WHO estimates that vaccines save at least 2 million lives every year.

The World Health Organization welcomed the changes on Pinterest, saying, "We hope to see other social media platforms around the world following Pinterest's lead."
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