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Twitter launches new search tool to combat vaccine misinformation

CNET logo CNET 15/05/2019 Steven Musil
© Norbert Millauer / AFP/Getty Images

Twitter has launched a new search tool to combat the spread of misinformation about vaccines on the social network.

Users will now be prompted to visit a credible public health resource when they search on Twitter for certain keywords related to vaccines, Twitter said in a blog post Friday. In the US, Twitter has partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services to direct users to the agency's Vaccines.gov.

A search for the word "vaccines," for example, generates a message at the top of users' feeds that says "To make sure you get the best information on vaccinations, resources are available from the US Department of Health & Human Services."

The new tool comes as tech companies face mounting pressure from lawmakers, activists and health experts to prevent anti-vax misinformation from going viral. The misinformation may have contributed to an outbreak of measles in the US.

Other tech companies have also beefed up their efforts to combat misinformation about vaccines. Facebook said in March it would demote the ranking of groups or pages that spread misinformation about vaccines on its News Feed and in search results. Pinterest blocked anti-vaccination searches and has tried to pull down anti-vax content. In February, YouTube said it would remove ads from videos that feature anti-vaccination content.

a screenshot of a cell phone: twitter-vaccines © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. twitter-vaccines

The new search prompt is available on iOS, Android, and mobile.twitter.com in the US (in English and Spanish), Canada (in English and French), UK, Brazil, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and in Spanish-speaking Latin American countries.

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