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You probably won’t be hearing from your anti-vax mates on Facebook anymore, thank heavens.

Facebook has announced it is going to crack down on vaccine misinformation on its platform.

In a statement they’ve said it’ll appear less frequently across people’s feeds, public pages, private pages and groups. It won’t crop up in search predictions, or in recommendation widgets on their site.

“Leading global health organisations, such as the World Health Organisation and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes. If these vaccine hoaxes appear on Facebook, we will take action,” the statement reads.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on anti-vaxxers. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

YouTube has also recently started cracking down on anti-vax content from running in its advertising. The company said such videos fall under its policy prohibiting the monetisation of videos with ‘dangerous and harmful’ content.

The crackdowns on the American run platforms was sparked by a measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest of the country in January.

Here in Australia doctors and medical professionals have been warning that very thing could happen in our country if we don’t quash anti-vax sentiment.

When the community doesn’t vaccinate as one, in a ‘herd mentality’, it leaves us more vulnerable to disease. Disease that we shouldn’t have in today’s day and age, and don’t have – thanks to vaccination.

But there has been an increase recently in celebrities and influencers taking to social media telling parents to be scared of autism, or that their kids will get sick from vaccines, or about the dangers of having chemicals in their bodies.

All of these ‘fears’ have been disproved. Time and time again. They are wrong and they are dangerous. The World Health Organisation in fact, has declared vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to our health.

“The obvious danger of these anti vax views being heard is that they take hold in even a small way, and the population suffers as a result of decreased herd immunity,” paediatrician Dr Scott Dunlop told Mamamia last month.

“The anti-vax movement is just that – an ideological movement that has no basis in evidence, and really involves a minority of the population,” Dr Dunlop added.

Unfortunately, however, some of the minority have huge platforms and thousands sometimes millions of followers.

Here are some celebrities that are spreading false anti vaccination messages;  Robert DeNiro, Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, Alicia Silverstone, President Trump…the list of powerful and influential personalities goes on.

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It has been happening at such a rate that last year there was a 30% spike worldwide in measles outbreaks thanks to the anti-vax movement.

“In my practice almost everyday I get someone asking me about something they’ve read on the internet, or something they’ve heard a friend tell them,” Sydney GP Dr Keang-Sing Lim told Mamamia.

“I am actually very pleased when someone asks me, because it allows me to have that discussion with them, I am more concerned by someone who reads this information [online] and does not seek more information,” said Dr Lim.

“The problem is that there is a lack of accountability for anti-vaxxers who promote pseudoscience and engage in fear-mongering,” said Dr Tony Bartone, another doctor – who also happens to be President of the Australian Medical Association.

“They often target vulnerable parents and, unlike doctors, they do not see the consequences of non-vaccination,” he said.

“We are not routinely confronted with death and disability caused by vaccine-preventable disease. Many people have not seen wards with patients relying on iron lungs due to paralysis caused by polio,” said Dr Bartone.

Facebook has also announced it is exploring ways to share educational information about vaccines when people come across misinformation.

In the meantime, let’s hope Facebook’s changes make a difference, and start hiding this anti-vaccination sentiment from our communities.

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