Twitter is launching new search tools meant to help users find credible resources about vaccines for its platform. It will also stop auto-suggesting search terms that would lead users to misinformation about vaccines. The move comes following measles outbreaks in the U.S. and some other parts of the world continue to get worse.
In a blog post, Twitter VP of trust and safety Del Harvey wrote, “We understand the importance of vaccines in reducing and preventing illness and disease and Twitter plays an important role in disseminating essential public health information. Twitter realize it’s important to help people find relevant information that enhances their health and well-being.”
When searching for keywords related to vaccines, they will see a prompt that will redirect them to resources from Twitter’s information partners. Moreover, a pinned tweet from one of the social media partner will also appear. In the U.S., the users will be direct to Vaccines.gov, a website by the Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to the U.S., the vaccine resources will also appear on Twitter’s iOS and Android apps and its mobile site in Canada, the UK, Brazil, Korea, Indonesia, Japan, and Singapore and Spanish-speaking Latin American countries.
The blog post further notes that “Twitter’s vaccine info tools are similar to ones it launched for suicide and self-harm prevention last year. It also plans to launch similar features for other major health issues over the next few months.”
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said measles cases in the U.S. had increased significantly. Cases have been reported in 23 U.S. states this year, with the majority—or almost 700—in New York alone.
Social media platforms have been criticized for long for not taking proper measures to prevent the spread of misinformation about vaccines and, as measles cases began to rise, the social media platforms have started taking measures. For instance, YouTube announced earlier this year that it is demonetizing all anti-vaccine content, while Facebook began downranking anti-vaccine images and videos on its News Feed and hiding it on Instagram.