Facebook Axed Pro-Vaccine Ads, Let Anti-Vaxxer Conspiracies Slip Through - 2019-10-25
Facebook promised to institute a stricter policy on anti-vaccination misinformation in ads back in February, a policy it expanded sitewide in March. That crackdown, however, appears to be penalizing some legitimate healthcare providers while letting some anti-vaccine conspiracies slide, even as the United States faces its largest outbreak of diseases preventable by vaccines in decades.
This month, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the state's official health department, bought 14 ads to promote a statewide program providing free pediatric vaccinations. Facebook removed all of them.
During the same time period, Children's Health Defense, an anti-vaccine nonprofit founded and chaired by the nation's most prominent vaccine conspiracy theorist, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., successfully placed more than 10 ads stoking unfounded fear about vaccines and other medical conspiracy theories. Some of the ads skirted around their intent, and some did not: One promised to reveal the truth about the "MMR Vaccine's Poison Pill"—the commonplace vaccine against mumps, measles, and rubella. It reached between 10,000 and 50,000 people, and Facebook took in between $100 and $500 for the ad.