It seems impossible to go a week without another social network handling fallout from another fake news scandal. Digital pinboard Pinterest, however, is taking more steps to polish its clean image, including the launch this week of a search function to combat vaccine misinformation.

Search results for around 200 terms related to vaccines will now only return “authoritative” information from major public health organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, rather than user-generated or user-sourced content typical to Pinterest. 

Vaccination of children has grown into a highly emotional issue, with opponents calling them a health risk while supporters point to their record of saving lives and halting epidemics. 

The vaccine search pages will not allow recommendations or comments from users. They also won’t allow advertisements, which have become a critical aspect of Pinterest’s business growth.  

Pinterest’s user base is unusually engaged. The company says that of its 300 million monthly active users, 77% have found a new product from browsing Pinterest and 84% use the platform when trying to decide on a purchase. As a result, and its efforts to limit inaccurate information, Pinterest is rising as a favorite among advertisers.

“I think every DTC (direct-to-consumer) advertiser is looking for alternatives to Facebook and Google as a way to diversify our spend and reliance on those platforms,” Jeremy Gurewitz, vice president of growth at Imperfect Produce, which advertises on Pinterest, told Karma. “The key for a mission-focused company like ours is the quality of the audience, and Pinterest’s audience is wonderful.”

However, Gurewitz also thinks Pinterest doesn’t receive enough credit for its audience, leaving room to grow for advertisers and subsequent revenue for Pinterest. 

“Part of that reason — and I think Pinterest would be the first to admit — is their ad platform is still in its infancy,” he said.

  • Pinterest’s vaccine feature marks the return of vaccine-related content to Pinterest. Last year, amid the booming “antivaxx” conversation,” it disabled search capabilities for a number of health terms and replaced them with prompts to contact a healthcare provider if seeking medical advice.
  • A report published in January by the U.K.’s Royal Society for Public Health found that 41% of parents said they are often or sometimes exposed to negative messaging about vaccines on social media. For parents with children under the age of five, that percentage increased to 50%.
  • In addition to curbing false information, Pinterest has released several positive features in 2019, including well-being activities that appear when a user searches for mental health topics and inclusive beauty searches. It has also prioritized personalization, making it ideal for advertisers seeking to reach highly engaged shoppers.
  • Pinterest’s business is growing, especially in terms of advertising. In the second quarter of 2019, Pinterest revenue grew 62% year over year, a result of more , advertisers recognizing “the power of [Pinterest’s] platform to reach consumers.”
  • Social media users find Pinterest ads to be the most relevant of major platforms, according to a recent Deutsche Bank survey. The majority of users also said they trust products promoted on Pinterest more than any other platform.

Karma Take: As social media giants like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter continue to battle widespread misinformation, Pinterest has quietly emerged as a reliable alternative. Its latest initiative is ensuring that information about vaccines is accurate.