Facebook shoots down Pages, ads sharing vaccine misinformation

Tired of vaccine myths in your newsfeed? Facebook is making them less prominent. On Thursday, March 7, Facebook shared a list of changes focused on fighting vaccine misinformation on the platform. Like “news” proven false by third-party platforms, Facebook will make debunked vaccine myths less prominent in the news feed.

The changes apply to what Facebook describes as “verifiable vaccine hoaxes,” recognized by organizations like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization (WHO). Pages and Groups sharing these hoaxes, the platform says, will be penalized in the News Feed.

Facebook says it will limit the reach of Pages and Groups that are sharing vaccine misinformation. The Page’s ranking will be reduced in both the news feed and search, which means the posts will appear further down in the feed. The Pages and Groups also won’t pop up in the recommendations as users type into the search box.

When users do come across a post containing a verified vaccine hoax, Facebook says they are exploring additional options to share educational information. While Facebook has not said exactly what this could look like, the platform currently suggests related articles from sources like Snopes on articles that have been proven false.

The changes also apply to Facebook ads. The company says they will reject ads that include misinformation about vaccines. Targeting options like “vaccine controversies” have also been removed from the platform, which means advertisers can no longer specifically target users that have shown interest in vaccine controversies.

Finally, Facebook says they won’t show or recommend vaccine misinformation on Instagram Explore or Instagram’s hashtag pages.

Discussion about vaccines seems to have surged on social media after several areas have reported measles outbreaks, a vaccine-preventable disease. A recent study confirmed — again — that vaccines have no scientific link to autism.

While Facebook is working to reduce the spread of false information proven by reputable third parties like WHO, similar moves, like reducing the spread of fake news, have some critics questioning free speech on the network and Facebook’s role in determining what users see in the news feed and what they don’t.

Social Media

A Facebook, Instagram bug exposed millions of passwords to its employees

Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram passwords weren't properly encrypted and could be viewed by employees, the company said Thursday. The network estimates millions of users were affected.

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. But with so many subreddits to choose from, exploring them can be overwhelming. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.

Insta-checkout? New Instagram service lets you shop without leaving the platform

Shopping on Instagram no longer means leaving the platform to checkout in a web browser. Instagram checkout launched in beta today with a handful of retailers, allowing users to checkout without leaving the app.
Social Media

New Zealand attack shows that as A.I. filters get smarter, so do violators

The shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand were livestreamed to social media, and while stats show networks are improving at removing offending videos, as the system improves, so do the violators' workarounds.
Social Media

Facebook may soon let you watch live TV with friends in Watch Party

Facebook Watch Party is designed to allow friends to watch together, even when they can't be in the same physical space. Now, that feature could be expanding to include live TV. Facebook announced a test of the feature, starting with live…
Social Media

Federal investigation digs into Facebook’s data-sharing deals

Facebook confirmed it is cooperating with a federal criminal investigation. According to a report, the company is under investigation for sharing user data with smartphone and tablet companies.
Social Media

Facebook explains its worst outage as 3 million users head to Telegram

Facebook, if you didn't already know it, suffered a bit of an issue on Wednesday, March 13. An issue that took down not only its social networking site, but also Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. On Thursday it offered an explanation.

Snapchat could soon let you play games in between your selfies

If a new report is accurate, Snapchat will be getting an integrated gaming platform in April. The platform will feature mobile games form third-party developers, and one publisher is already signed on.
Social Media

Twitter is testing a handy subscription feature for following threads

Twitter has recently started testing a feature that lets you subscribe to a thread so that you’ll no longer need to like a comment or post to it yourself in order to receive notifications of new contributions.
Social Media

Your Google+ public content will remain viewable on the web, if you want it to

Google's failed social network — Google+ — will soon be wiped from the internet, but there's a team of volunteers working right now to save its public content for the Internet Archive.

There’s more space on MySpace after ‘accidental’ wipe of 50 million songs

MySpace is no longer a safe refuge for music and media produced in the 2000s. It said that almost any artistic content uploaded to the site between 2003 and 2015 may have been lost as part of a server migration last year.

Intel and Facebook team up to give Cooper Lake an artificial intelligence boost

Intel's upcoming Cooper Lake microarchitecture will be getting a boost when it comes to artificial intelligence processes, thanks to a partnership with Facebook. The results are CPUs that are able to work faster.
Social Media

Facebook axes alleged discriminatory targeting of ads after civil settlements

Facebook advertisers can no longer use targeting for age, gender or zip code when advertising in the housing, jobs, and credit categories. The changes come as part of a civil settlement, following earlier changes to remove racial targeting.
Social Media

Facebook Messenger adds quoted replies to better organize group chats

Facebook is rolling out a feature that should help make group chats a whole lot more organized. The feature allows you to reply to specific messages within a group chat, so others will be able to tell what you're replying to.