Facebook is working to limit the reach of posts creating “sensational health claims” in an attempt to tamp down on information, in line with a brand new announcement from the social media network.
Social media sites are notorious breeding grounds for dubious health data, from anti-vaccine arguments to too-good-to-be-true well-being claims. A Wall Street Journal investigation revealed Tuesday, the same day Facebook created its announcement, found that Facebook and YouTube are rife with posts promoting questionable alternative cancer therapies, for instance. Many of these therapies are unverified, and can be dangerous if patients place confidence in them rather than doctor-prescribed care.
Facebook’s new policy is supposed to stop the unfold of this sort of content, since, as the announcement notes, “people don’t like posts that are sensational or spammy, and deceptive health content is especially dangerous for our community.” the site is additionally cracking down on posts attempting to sell products or services based on unsound health claims, the announcement says.
But instead of removing sensational health posts outright, Facebook will change the approach they’re ranked in users’ News Feeds, in order that fewer folks see them. Posts that include certain commonly used phrases — ones that suggest the post either “exaggerates or misleads,” or that it’s using health claims to hawk merchandise like weight-loss pills or medications — will show up lower in users’ News Feed. The strategy is analogous to the one Facebook uses to limit the influence of clickbait posted by publishers.
The announcement doesn’t, however, mention groups, where health-related misinformation typically spreads and takes hold within established communities.