Facebook said that it has removed targeting categories such as "vaccine controversies".
Move comes amid outbreaks of measles in the U.S. attributed to growing numbers of parents who refuse to vaccinate their childrenFacebook launched an offensive on Thursday to suppress the spread of misinformation about vaccines on the 2.3-billion-member social network.
In an effort to curb anti-vaccination conspiracy theories and misinformation, Facebook announced Thursday it will no longer recommend the offending pages and groups, and will block advertisements that include false content about vaccines.
The social networking giant will start downranking groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccination on both News Feed and its search function.
The decision follows a Tuesday Senate hearing on how to stop the outbreak of preventable diseases in which an 18-year-old testified that he was immunized against the wishes of his mother, who he said had developed anti-vaccine beliefs through her involvement with various Facebook groups.
"These groups and Pages will not be included in recommendations or predictions when you type into search".
In mid-February, Facebook told USA TODAY it had "taken steps" to reduce fake health news and anti-vaxx posts and said it was in plans for making anti-vaccination content on its site less visible amid a measles outbreak that has brought to light a conversation about preventative shots. WHO in February listed "vaccine hesitancy" among its top 10 most pressing global health threats for 2019 and the United Nations last week warned against "complacency" as measles cases soared worldwide.
An investigation by the Guardian newspaper found that Facebook search results for information about vaccines were "dominated by anti-vaccination propaganda".
Admitting that people want private, encrypted services, Zuckerberg said Facebook would become like the mobile messaging platform which is more secure with end-to-end encryption.
The questions people have around vaccinations is a "direct result of the negative content you have on social media", he said, adding the issue is made more hard to control because such content is often in local languages not spoken by outsiders.
"For ad accounts that continue to violate our policies, we may take further action, such as disabling the ad account". YouTube and Pinterest are also now taking steps to tackle the spread of vaccine misinformation.