By 2018, it was clear that Pinterest suffered from a problem many of its peers had long dealt with. Because most people are vaccinated and do not spend their free time making pro-vaccine content for social networks, a search for “vaccines” on Pinterest returned anti-vaccination results 75 percent of the time. The consequences of vaccine-related misinformation taking over Pinterest and other, larger social networks is not theoretical: measles has had a scary resurgence around the world,and the World Health Organization now lists vaccine hesitancy as a top-10 threat to global health.
While the other big platforms dithered, Pinterest took decisive action: it stopped returning results for vaccine searches. “It’s better not to serve those results than to lead people down what is like a recommendation rabbit hole,” 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 taking care of your community looks like — if you want to know what social responsibility for a tech platform looks like — it looks a lot like what Ozoma is saying right there.