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Twitter fights vaccine misinformation with new search tool

Twitter fights vaccine misinformation with new search tool


The platform will roll the tool out to cover other health terms in the future

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The Twitter bird logo in white against a dark background with outlined logos around it and red circles rippling out from it.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

If you search for tweets related to vaccines as of Friday, the first thing you see on Twitter is a post from the United States Department of Health and Human Services pointing you to reliable health information instead of anti-vax misinformation.

Last week, Twitter announced that it would be launching a new tool in search that would prompt users to head to, which is run by officials at HHS. Over the past few months, social media companies like Facebook and Twitter have faced intense pressure from lawmakers and the public to remove anti-vaccination propaganda from their platforms.

“We’re committed to protecting the health of the public conversation on Twitter,” the blog post read. “Ensuring individuals can find information from authoritative sources is a key part of that mission.”

The tool shows up on Android, iOS, Twitter’s mobile site, and on the newly designed desktop site in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Korea as of right now.

Twitter has used a similar tool that prompts users who search for terms related to suicide to contact a hotline for help. According to the blog post, Twitter intends to extend this tool to other health-related search terms in the future.

“This new investment builds on our existing work to guard against the artificial amplification of non-credible content about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines,” the blog said.

Last week, it was announced that Instagram would hide search results for anti-vax hashtags on its platform, effectively blocking any associated content from surfacing. In March, Facebook said that it would work to curb vaccine misinformation, but reporters have continued to find posts intended to dissuade people from being vaccinated.

Updated 5/14/19 5:19 p.m.: Updated to clarify where people can find the new tool.