As measles outbreaks in the United States and other countries continue to get worse, Twitter is introducing new search tools meant to help users find credible resources about vaccines. It will also stop auto-suggesting search terms that would lead users to misinformation about vaccines.
In a blog post, Twitter vice president of trust and safety Del Harvey wrote “at Twitter, we understand the importance of vaccines in preventing illness and disease and recognize the role that Twitter plays in disseminating important public health information. We think it’s important to help people find reliable information that enhances their health and well-being.”
When users search for keywords related to vaccines, they will see a prompt that directs them to resources from Twitter’s information partners. In the U.S., this is vaccines.gov, a website by the Department of Health and Human Services. A pinned tweet from one of Twitter’s partners will also appear.
In addition to the U.S., the vaccine information tools will also appear on Twitter’s iOS and Android apps and its mobile site in Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Spanish-speaking Latin American countries.
Harvey wrote that Twitter’s vaccine information tools are similar to ones it launched for suicide and self-harm prevention last year. The company plans to launch similar features for other public health issues over the coming months, she added.
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said measles cases in the U.S. had increased to 839. Cases have been reported in 23 states this year, with the majority — or almost 700 — in New York.
Social media platforms have been criticized for not doing more to prevent the spread of misinformation about vaccines and, as measles cases began to rise, started taking measures. For example, YouTube announced earlier this year that it is demonetizing all anti-vaccine videos, while Facebook began downranking anti-vaccine content on its News Feed and hiding it on Instagram.