Pinterest's work in the field of public health shows the good that a smaller social network can do

By 2018, it was clear that Pinterest was suffering from a problem that many of his colleagues had been dealing with for a long time. Because most people are vaccinated and do not spend their free time creating pro-vaccine content for social networks, a search for "vaccines" on Pinterest reduced anti-vaccination results 75 percent of the time. The consequences of vaccine-related misinformation that Pinterest and other larger social networks are taking over are not theoretical: measles has had a scary revival around the world, and the World Health Organization now calls vaccine hesitation as a top 10 threat to global health.


As the other major platforms left, Pinterest took decisive action: it stopped returning results for the search for vaccines. "It is better not to serve those results than to lead people down what looks like a rabbit hole with recommendations," Ifeoma Ozoma, Pinterest's public policy and social impact manager, told the Wall Street Journal: As I wrote here at the time:

If you want to know what caring for your community looks like – if you want to know what social responsibility for a technical platform looks like – it is very similar to what Ozoma says there.

Today, Pinterest has taken another worthy step in the same direction of social responsibility. It allows search results for 200 vaccine-related terms, but provides results from results displayed by credible public health organizations, including the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Vaccine Safety Net. Julia Carrie Wong explains the movement in the Guardian:

The platform will also block ads, recommendations, and comments on those pages.

"It was very important for us to ensure that this experience does not invade incorrect information," says Ifeoma Ozoma, government policy and social impact manager for Pinterest. "You are not in a situation where you click on a reliable pin and the recommendations or comments are full of misinformation."

Under great pressure from Congress, Facebook and Google / YouTube have taken measures to reduce the spread of anti-vaccine propaganda on their networks. But public health experts say no one has gone that far or is likely to be as effective as Pinterest comes here.

The action of Pinterest is only possible because the managers have made an editorial decision: that incorrect information about vaccination is harmful to their user base and the larger world. They took the consensus of the scientific establishment and acted in Mark Zuckerberg as & # 39; truth arbitrators & # 39 ;.

The larger the tech platform, the more worrying it is when they exercise editorial power. We probably do not want a service that has become our national communication infrastructure to support, for example, political candidates.

And yet in recent years we have repeatedly shown the consequences of head-in-the-sand neutrality. Denying platforms from human editors and entrusting recommendations to algorithms has been a blessing for all sorts of bad actors, from anti-vaccine zealots to foreign agents. There is clearly a place for editorial judgment – because they are the umpire of truth – and the social platforms are now looking for it.


It is probably no coincidence that the most daring action we have seen so far with regard to vaccines comes from one of the smallest social platforms, in terms of user base and public awareness. If you are Facebook or YouTube, any policy decision is an act of international diplomacy. It is a negotiation with the press and with the stock market. It is an electrified rail that must be rarely touched with protective gloves.

But if you are Pinterest – well, nobody ever really knew what to expect from the policy. You can act decisively and with moral clarity from the spotlight. (Ozoma in particular worked on Google and Facebook before coming to Pinterest.) Because the world is considering breaking & # 39; the world's largest social platforms, Pinterest's contribution to public health today is a good thing for small things.


Facebook adds new requirements for political advertisers. This is something good. From my story The edge:

Facebook adds new requirements for political advertisers, the company said Wednesday, as part of its efforts to make the platform safer in the run-up to the 2020 elections. Before a political ad is purchased, advertisers must provide more information about their organization, including government issued identification numbers. The move, which will take effect mid-September, is in response to some advertisers usingmisleading names in their disclaimers to hide their identity.

"In 2018 we saw that our disclaimer process could be abused," Sarah Schiff, a Facebook product manager, told The Verge. "This is an attempt to strengthen that process."

Today's changes mark an evolution in the political requirements for advertising disclosure that Facebook introduced last year. At the beginning of last spring, the company began demanding that everyone buy political ads to verify their identity and location. Now they have to go one step further and provide proof that they are part of the organization they say they represent.

Democratic senators warn that Messenger Kids is not safe for children in a new letter to Facebook related to the security error discovered last month. (Russell Brandom / The edge)

The US government tries to block the construction of a submarine cable that is funded by Google and Facebook and intended to provide internet connectivity. The Ministry of Justice has expressed concerns about national security over the fact that the cable has links with the Chinese government. More than 8,000 km of cable has already been laid. (Kate O & # 39; Keeffe, Drew FitzGerald and Jeremy Page / Wall Street Journal)

The German data protection commissioner is investigating Facebook & # 39; s use of people listening to users' audio recordings to improve voice transcripts. It is one of several companies that have recently been caught doing something similar, usually with minimal disclosure to affected users. (Aoife White and Natalia Drozdiak / Bloomberg)

A Marine encourages employees of the technology company to work with the Pentagon to build better technology. “Instead of putting pressure on their leadership to withdraw the support of the American service member, techies can put them under pressure to add the fair application of US power to their list of lobbying efforts, including maintaining extensive access to the private data of their fellow citizens and sharpening their monopoly grip on the dissemination of information & # 39 ;, writes Lucas Kunce. (New York Times)


"Since the shooting in El Paso, the police have arrested more than 20 people reportedly violent on social media. "(April Glaser / Slate)

Taiwan elects a president in January, and there are signs that China is trying to influence the mood with the help of social media platforms. (Stanford Internet Observatory)


Apple Apologies for the expiration of privacy regarding having human contractors listen to Siri recordings to improve transcription. And unlike any other company that recently caught it, Apple is introducing meaningful (and expensive) changes to Siri's privacy policy:

Firstly, we no longer preserve audio recordings of Siri interactions as standard. We will continue to use computer-generated transcripts to help improve Siri.

Second, users can sign up to help improve Siri by learning the audio clips of their requests. We hope that many people will choose to help Siri improve, knowing that Apple respects their data and has powerful privacy controls. Those who choose to participate can unsubscribe at any time.

Third, when customers sign up, only Apple employees are allowed to listen to audio samples of the Siri interactions. Our team will work on deleting any recording that has been determined to be an unintended trigger of Siri.

BuzzFeed discovered a network of foreign sites that falsely presented themselves as Canadian news sources on Facebook and Google News, for unclear reasons. They are actually managed by accounts in Kosovo, Israel and the United States and have been used to disseminate false or misleading information. (Craig Silverman and Jane Lytvynenko / BuzzFeed)

Your disconnect Facebook account of your Instagram account you do not actually disconnect your Facebook account from your Instagram account. (Paris Martineau / Wired)


The Notorious JMW believes that Facebook test a clone of rot, a app for sharing screens which allows you to view your friend's phone through your own phone. (Jane Manchun Wong)

If you are tired of raising your little child, YouTube Kids has now introduced a filtered version of the app for toddlers. Feels like really strange timing to introduce this no?

Gamergate tactics are to the podcast industry, with angry fans now coordinating to bomb podcast hosts with one star ratings. (Ashley Carman / The edge)

While Scale founders, Telegram & # 39; s "Gram" is progressing. (Nathaniel Popper / New York Times)

I have no idea what to make of this wild story an Instagram influencer who may or may not be blackmailed by an anonymous content moderator in the Tampa facility that I wrote about earlier this year. (Jesselyn Cook /Huffington Post)


How Square finally found success: by abolishing everything that people once liked to become a surveillance marketing company. This year it earns $ 100 million from your location data. (James D. Walsh / New York)

And finally …

While Pinterest focuses on getting accurate health information about vaccines, Twitter is … doing Twitter things.

Advertisers cannot just & # 39; vagina & # 39; say on Twitter because a publisher learned this week in a hard way in an effort to promote The Vagina Bible, a medical book on vaginal health by gynecologist Jen Gunter. The publisher told VICE that it was forbidden to promote one chatter linking an interview with Dr. Gunter about "vaginal health" and another with the language, "the definitive book for understanding your vaginal health!" Another promoted tweet about the book, which says: "It's time to separate the myth of the drug with everyone's favorite OBGYN! & # 39; has also been deleted.

Twitter prohibits promotional tweets about & # 39; sexual products and services for adults & # 39; but in a statement to VICE, a Twitter spokesperson wrote that & # 39; references to sexual organs & # 39; are allowed, and some promoted content from Kensington Books was confusingly rejected because of a combination of human errors and violations, including the use of blasphemy and adult products. "


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