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Social media platforms looking to limit spread of misinformation about vaccines

Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest have all taken action.

ST. LOUIS — From Facebook, to Pinterest, to YouTube, social media platforms said they are taking steps to limit the spread of misinformation about vaccines.

Facebook is reportedly working with health experts to decide how to make anti-vaccine posts less prominent, possibly by pushing those posts lower onto a user’s newsfeed and not recommending people join groups that promote misinformation.

YouTube said it would remove ads from channels that run anti-vaccine content. Pinterest announced it would block all posts related to vaccines for now.

“It’s important to me that when it comes to the health of children, that the type of information is shared, especially broadly, is information that is true and grounded in actual science and actual fact,” said Dr. Joshua Arthur, SluCare Pediatrician at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Arthur said it can be difficult for parents to discern between facts and research and compelling personal stories online.

“I take care of children whose parents have been negatively influenced by false vaccine information that they have seen on social media and many of those parents choose not to vaccinate their children,” Dr. Arthur said.

However, some parents disagree with what social media platforms are doing.

“If we take that information from parents, and we don't give them the pros or cons, we don't do any service to parents,” said Krystal, a mom of four in St. Louis County.

She said she vaccinated her two older children, but decided not to vaccinate her two younger children.

“I think the best way to approach that is to let people read everything — both sides — whether it's right or wrong and decide what's best for you and your family,” Krystal said.