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Instagram Will Use AI To Filter Anti-Vax Content

The company plans to police anti-vaccine misinformation by flagging it with pop-ups similar to those it uses for content related to self-harm.

Posted on May 7, 2019, at 6:03 p.m. ET

Emojipedia / Instagram

Instagram will roll out new ways to prevent the spread of misinformation about vaccines, including a pop-up warning that appears when you search certain anti-vax terms. The feature is still in development, and Instagram’s safety team was not able to share a launch date.

Currently, Instagram displays a pop-up alert when people search for hashtags or terms related to self-harm or suicide. That pop-up shows a message with a warning and a link to support resources. It’s not clear yet what the pop-up for anti-vax misinformation will say or what outside resources it might point to.

A flurry of measles outbreaks across the country has raised concerns about vaccine misinformation, particularly online. This February, YouTube cracked down and demonetized anti-vax videos. Shortly after, Amazon removed anti-vax documentaries from its Prime Video streaming app. Last month, Facebook said it would bar anti-vax groups and pages from advertising and ad-targeting topics like “vaccine controversy.” The changes at Facebook extended to Instagram, which is currently blocking certain hashtags associated with misinformation, like #vaccinescauseaids.

Instagram doesn’t plan to ban accounts or erase posts that discuss vaccines or anti-vax ideas. The plan is to limit the intentional spread of misinformation while highlighting accurate vaccine information.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.