Pinterest’s New Feature Enables Accurate, Science-Based Information to Surface When Users Search for Vaccine-Related Terms

To the prevent users from absorbing inaccurate information , Pinterest has added a new feature to their search engine so that when users searches for vaccine-related terms, such as “measles” or “vaccine safety”, information sourced from various scientific organizations will surface.

World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the WHO-established Vaccine Safety Net (VSN), are names of the organizations Pinterest intends to prioritize with this new feature.

The update is for English-speaking searchers on the web and Pinterest’s mobile apps for iOS and Android. Pinterest intends to expand this feature to other searches and in more languages. In the future, this feature will eventually be expanded to more languages and other searches. Pinterest also mentioned that their platform will work with this organization to construct appealing and creative images that are also based in science. By doing so, they hope that it will lead to more users to sharing the images, and thus, the accurate information will be spread out further.  

A little while back, Pinterest spoke out against the spread of misinformation related to vaccinations and made sure that any results for vaccine-related search terms would not return to their platform.

Examples of Non-Science Based Health Information that Used to Float Around on Pinterest

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Pinterest has stopped returning results for searches related to vaccinations, a drastic step the social-media company said is aimed at curbing the spread of misinformation but one that demonstrates the power of tech companies to censor discussion of hot-button issues.

Most shared images on Pinterest relating to vaccination cautioned against it, contradicting established medical guidelines and research showing that vaccines are safe, Pinterest said. The image-searching platform tried to remove the anti-vaccination content, a Pinterest spokeswoman said, but has been unable to remove it completely.

Here are some examples of posts that would have gone unfiltered in the past

I like that Pinterest has taken steps to prevent the spread of misinformation on their platform. It seems as though anti-vaxxers are lurking on Social Media at a higher rate than before. It may not seem this way, but anti-vaccine propaganda often goes undetected, because anti-vaxxers have employed a whole “holistic approach” and others sly tactics disguise their ulterior motives and beliefs.

Another thing that should be mentioned is that it is affluent and well-educated individuals whom tend to spread anti-vaccine propaganda. These surprisingly wealthy individuals often favor alternative medicine like chiropractors and naturopathy because they want to be “different”, their power and financial status is what drives they’re allowed to make decisions which deviate from what is standard, normal, and accepted in society.

But that’s beside my point, anti-vaxxers have always preyed on the insecurities of parents to spread their propaganda and Social Media has just made it easier for them to target people’s emotions and tap into parents’ fears. The wave of anti-vaccination which occurred on Pinterest thoroughly reflects this and so, it’s important that Social Media companies recognize the particular behavior of anti-vaxxers on their platform.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/next-front-in-tech-firms-war-on-misinformation-bad-medical-advice-11550658601?mod=djem10point

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/28/20836634/pinterest-vaccine-safety-measles-search-results

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/parents-vaccinate-kids-tend-affluent-educated-experts/story?id=60674519

One thought on “Pinterest’s New Feature Enables Accurate, Science-Based Information to Surface When Users Search for Vaccine-Related Terms

  1. This piece is super interesting. Misinformation is at the core of so many discrepancies and Twitter brawls, that have such a powerful impact that it could even stem all the way to influencing legal policy. I’m glad Pinterest is taking action on this singular issues (a very important one, in my opinion) in order to spread education. The only problem is considering the evolution of this algorithm, where biases may be instilled into the method. Though, I’m hopeful for Pinterest’s direct action.

    Like

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