Here's How Facebook Plans to Address Posts Promoting False Health Information


Facebook is taking new steps toward limiting the amount of false health information spread on the site.

A recent blog post on Facebook Newsroom details the steps the company plans to take to stop the spread of misinformation.

“People come together on Facebook to talk about, advocate for, and connect around things like nutrition, fitness and health issues,” said Travis Yeh, the Product Manager at Facebook in the blog post. “But in order to help people get accurate health information and the support they need, it’s imperative that we minimize health content that is sensational or misleading.”

Last month Facebook implemented two ranking updates that will reduce posts with exaggerated or sensational health claims as well as posts attempting to sell products or services based on health-related applications. 

The first update checks if a post about health exaggerates or misleads its viewers. An example could be a post promoting a miracle cure.

For the second update checks if a post promotes a product or service based on a health-related claim. An example could be a post promoting a medication or pill claiming to help someone lose weight. 

Facebook plans to handle these posts similar fashion to how low-quality content like clickbait is being reduced. It will do this by identifying phrases that are commonly used in these types of posts to predict which posts might include false or sensational health claims or promotion of products with health-related claims, and then showing these lower in News Feed. 

So how will that affect most News Feeds? 

Facebook anticipates that most Pages won't see any significant changes to their distribution in News Feeds as a result of the update. Only posts with exaggerated health claims or solicitation using health-related claims will have reduced distribution.

Pages should avoid posts that make exaggerated health claims or mislead people, as well as posts that try to sell products using health-related claims.

Facebook claims that if a page stops posting that kind of content, their posts will no longer be affected by the change.

What do you think of these changes?

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