"The algorithms which power these services are not created to distinguish quality information from misinformation or misleading information, and the consequences of that are particularly troubling for public health issues", said Schiff in the letter addressed to both tech execs. That might include "reducing or removing this type of content from recommendations, including Groups You Should Join, and demoting it in search results, while also ensuring that higher quality and more authoritative information is available".
Less than 20 years ago, measles in the US was classified as a eradicated disease with only a few hundred cases nationwide, according to the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
As a disturbing number of measles outbreaks crop up around the United States, Facebook is facing challenges combating widespread misinformation about vaccinations on its platform, which has become a haven for the anti-vaccination movement. "Counter-speech in the form of accurate information and alternative viewpoints can help create a safer and more respectful environment". Schiff also wants to know if providing a platform for medically inaccurate information violates either company's terms or service. Facebook did not respond to questions from the Guardian about its plans for dealing with the issue.
The platform has a spotty record when it comes to the quality of information in popular health content seen by its users.
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With five measles outbreaks ongoing in the USA, lawmakers are questioning both health officials and tech giants on their efforts to combat the noxious anti-vaccine misinformation fueling the spread of disease.
Meanwhile, the pressure is heating up for the world's largest social network. The study found less than half were "highly credible".
Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook employees. The World Health Organization listed reluctance or refusal to get vaccines as a top threat to global health this year.
Facebook also accepted advertising revenue from Vax Truther, Anti-Vaxxer, Vaccines Revealed and MI for Vaccine Choice, among others, according to another investigation from the Guardian.
In his letter, Schiff frames the whole issue as a public health concern.
At the same time, posts are frequently shared within various Facebook Groups discouraging people from vaccinating their children. Schiff didn't name the source of that report, but an article published Thursday by The Daily Beast noted that seven Facebook pages that post and promote anti-vaccine bunkum were targeting women over the age of 25.