A release from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA):
Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), sent a letter to Sundar Pichai and Mark Zuckerberg, the Chief Executive Officers of Google and Facebook, respectively, to express concern that the company’s platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, are surfacing and recommending information that discourages parents from vaccinating their children, contributing to declining vaccination rates which could reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.
“As a Member of Congress who is deeply concerned about declining vaccination rates, I am requesting additional information on the steps that you currently take to provide medically accurate information on vaccinations to your users, and to encourage you to consider additional steps you can take to address this growing problem,” Schiff wrote in the letter. “I was pleased to see YouTube’s recent announcement that it will no longer recommend videos that violate its community guidelines, such as conspiracy theories or medically inaccurate videos, and encourage further action to be taken related to vaccine misinformation.”
The scientific and medical communities are in overwhelming consensus that vaccines are both effective and safe. There is no evidence to suggest that vaccines cause life-threatening or disabling diseases, and the dissemination of unfounded and debunked theories about the dangers of vaccinations pose a great risk to public health.
In 2015, Rep. Schiff first introduced the bipartisan Vaccines Save Lives resolution, recognizing the importance of vaccines and immunizations in the United States. The resolution sends a message of unequivocal Congressional support for vaccines and urges parents, in consultation with their health care providers, to follow scientific evidence and the consensus of medical experts in favor of timely vaccination for the well-being of their children and surrounding communities.Sarah Frier at Bloomberg:
In response, Facebook said it is “exploring additional measures to best combat the problem," according to a statement from the company. That might include “reducing or removing this type of content from recommendations, including Groups You Should Join, and demoting it in search results, while also ensuring that higher quality and more authoritative information is available."
Google, which did not immediately respond to a comment about Schiff’s letter, has already been taking similar measures. Last month, Google’s YouTube unfurled a change in the way it recommends videos -- an automated system that has been criticized for promoting misinformation. YouTube said it would starting cutting videos with "borderline content" that "misinform users in harmful ways" from its recommendation system. The company only offered three examples. One was videos that promote "a phony miracle cure for a serious illness."