Anti-vaccination messages on social media may be contributing to an increase in measles cases, says the head of NHS England.
Instagram says it will block hashtags used to promote misinformation about vaccines.
Anti-vaccination messages on social media may be contributing to an increase in measles cases, according to the head of NHS England, Simon Stevens.
A spokesperson for Instagram told Sky News it had already blocked the hashtags #vaccinescauseautism, #vaccinescauseaids and #vaccinesarepoison.
The firm is now extending this policy to address hashtags that seem innocent on the surface.
For example, #vaccines1234 does not contain anything alarming in its wording.
But if it is found to be used in a number of posts to promote verifiably false vaccine misinformation it will be added to the block list.
However the social media giant has confirmed it will not be banning misinformation, as it was different from disinformation spread by a movement opposed to vaccines.
Nor will it be banning any accounts that promote or sharing the material, only the material itself.
The government recently announced plans to develop laws which would require web platforms to address harmful online content or face sanctions from an online harms regulator.
Despite calls to remove anti-vaccination messages, Instagram has claimed they don’t violate its policies and the platform can only attempt to reduce how many people see them.
The Instagram spokesperson said that verifiable hoaxes regarding vaccinations were being removed from Search, Explore and hashtag pages.
The charity Unicef has analysed data which shows that more than half a million children in the UK were not vaccinated against measles over an eight-year period.