After rolling out a ban on anti-vax content in Pins earlier in the year, Pinterest is now taking another step to halt the spread of vaccine misinformation on its platform, limiting its search results for vaccine-related queries to Pins from officially-recognized health organizations only.
As per Pinterest:
"This new search experience only shows content from leading public health institutions - you won’t see any recommendations or comments on Pins in these results. We also won’t show ads. We’re taking this approach because we believe that showing vaccine misinformation alongside resources from public health experts isn't responsible."
As you can see in the example above, a search for vaccine information will now only surface results from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Vaccine Safety Net (VSN). That, along with the aforementioned ban on anti-vax Pins, will significantly limit the spread of any false information around the topic on the platform.
Pinterest has taken a stronger stance than other platforms against anti-vax content. Not only is anti-vax content banned on the platform, but Pinterest's automated detection systems have also been trained to seek such out, and remove it before it even gets seen.
Pinterest says that it's taking stronger action because the anti-vax movement has become particularly damaging, with the CDC recently confirming that the U.S. is experiencing the greatest number of measles cases reported since 1992 - a virus that was declared "eliminated" in the region in 2000.
"Health misinformation has the potential to impact public health, regardless of what service it’s found on. Allowing this content to spread through Pinterest’s search results is not in line with enforcing our community guidelines. That’s why we’re limiting search results to internationally recognized health organizations."
Such movements have gained traction on social networks because the platforms enable groups to build their own news inputs, taking the information they choose to believe and blocking out anything that counters such. The same process has lead to more significant political division, which is likely harder for the networks themselves to stop, but in the case of factual, science-based argument, it makes sense for Pinterest to implement systems that, for the most part, should eliminate such discussion in the app.
It could actually prove to be a good test case - if all the social networks followed Pinterest's lead here, and that saw a decline in anti-vax sharing, that may point to other options they could consider to restrict the flow of misinformation more broadly.
You can read more about Pinterest's new anti-vax processes here.