Instagram to Block Anti-vaccine Hashtags

Instagram is the latest internet platform to crack down on bad health information

CARL COURT GETTY IMAGESInstagram is the latest internet platform to crack down on bad health information

The Facebook-owned platform already blocks obvious hashtag terms used to spread false information, such as #vaccinescauseautism, #vaccinescauseaids and #vaccinesarepoison, but its policy is now being extended to address vaccine hashtags that seem innocent on the surface. Clicking a banned hashtag simply won't let the users anywhere and it won't even come up if it's being searched for on goal.

This means it will block any hashtag - including something innocuous like #Vaccines1234 - if it contains a high volume of vaccine misinformation.

The spokesperson would not elaborate on how much misinformation has to appear under a given hashtag for it to be banned, saying the company didn't want users to be able to game the system.

Instagram said "known vaccine misinformation" refers to misinformation that has been verified as false by the health organisations across the globe.

However, on Wednesday, CNN published a story about how Instagram was still circulating content over the hashtag page #vaccineskill and through user accounts such as "Christians Against Vaccines".

Users will still be allowed to express anti-vaccination views on the platform.

Erased messages are analyzed on Instagram to see which hashtags they are provided with.

The feature is still in development and the company didn't share a launch date.

Instagram said it'll take time for the platform to address the controversial content.

Hashtags including #vaccinetruth, #vaccineskillandmaim and #vaccinescauseautismreadthestudies showed numerous posts containing false information.

Instagram said it will continue to block hashtags with a high percentage of anti-vaccination misinformation as it finds them.

The changes also come as Facebook faces public pressure to do more to prevent anti-vaccination conspiracy theories and propaganda from spreading.

Last month, Facebook said it would reduce the rank of groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccines in News Feed and Search.

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