Doctors want Facebook, YouTube (whose parent company is Google), and even Pinterest to do more to stop the spread of vaccine misinformation.
Kyle E. Yasuda, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote to the aforementioned companies in an attempt to raise awareness of vaccines following a recent measles outbreak.
"As parents increasingly turn to social media to gather information and form opinions about their children’s health, the consequences of inaccurate information play out offline," writes Yasuda, calling the current situation a "public health crisis."
This letter came just days before Facebook and YouTube announced its plans to crack down on anti-vaccine content. While the announcements came in quick succession, both platforms are unique and required their own action plans to address the situation. In a company newsletter, Facebook revealed its intent to reduce the visibility of anti-vaccine groups, while also rejecting ads that promote that stance. On top of that, they won't recommend content that contains what they deem misinformation that information both on that platform and Instagram through hashtags while also looking to promote pro-vaccine content. YouTube will take a slightly different approach by removing ads on videos they deem to be spreading conspiracy theories regarding the subject.
With that in mind, the World Health Organization lists "Vaccine Hesitancy" as one of the major global threats to humanity in 2019. According to their statistics, the proper shots prevent 2-3 million deaths a year, and that number could grow if coverage can spread around the world.
Still, the anti-vaccine movement has grown in popularity over the last several years. In fact, some of the loudest voices in the community come from very high profile names like tattoo and makeup sensation Kat Von D, Jenny McCarthy, and Kristie Alley — who have all faced equal parts support and backlash for their stance on the matter. For them, and many others, the argument has been that the decision to vaccinate a child should be done by the parent, whether it is for health reasons or personal belief.
Most recently, Teen Mom star Kailyn Lowry revealed she chose not to vaccinate her youngest of three children. According to her, she was hesitant to do so with her oldest, and she was more selective with her middle child.