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Facebook will limit reach of sensational health claims

The social media site vows to tackle bogus cancer cures and other misleading health content.

Jul 2, 2019, 1:08 pm

Tech

Mikael Thalen 

Mikael Thalen

Facebook announced Tuesday that it will begin reducing the reach of posts that make exaggerated and sensational health claims.

In a blog post on the company’s site, product manager at Facebook Travis Yeh outlined new changes to “minimize health content that is sensational or misleading.”

Wrote Yeh: “We know that people don’t like posts that are sensational or spammy, and misleading health content is particularly bad for our community.”

Facebook says it is using the same tactics used to identify clickbait in order to target and decrease misleading health posts. First, the company works to identify common phrases used in these sorts of posts and then has content containing those phrases demoted in the News Feed.

“Posts with sensational health claims or solicitation using health-related claims will have reduced distribution,” Yeh added. “Pages should avoid posts about health that exaggerate or mislead people and posts that try to sell products using health-related claims.”

Yeh further noted that offending pages that stop posting sensational claims will automatically have their reach restored.

The decision comes after the Wall Street Journal revealed that Facebook was overrun with bogus cancer treatment claims such as “baking-soda injections.”

Facebook also took similar action in March to reduce the ranking of pages “that spread misinformation about vaccinations.”

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*First Published: Jul 2, 2019, 1:08 pm