Open platforms have an extraordinary power to allow communities to come together in new and exciting ways. But in an age of misinformation, we have learned that they also allow falsehoods to spread unchecked and inaccuracies to jeopardize the common good.
This is one of the reasons HuffPost decided at the end of 2017 to shut down our contributor platform. I noted at the time that “open platforms that once seemed radically democratizing now threaten, with the tsunami of false information we all face daily, to undermine democracy.” As a news organization, we needed to shift from a model where anyone could access and distribute content on a platform with our name on it, to a model in which content was commissioned by our editorial staff.
Which is not to say that the contributor platform — which had more than 750,000 individual blog posts at the time it closed — did not host many wonderful writers. It did, and there is much of value still there to explore. But not every blog served the public interest. In that category we must include the pieces that dismissed the overwhelming evidence of the safety of vaccines.
As critics of these blogs have noted in the past — and as recent outbreaks of preventable diseases have shown — misinformation around vaccine efficacy and safety can have real consequences. After a monthslong review, HuffPost has decided to remove dozens of blogs that perpetuate the unfounded opinion that vaccines pose a health risk to the public. Allowing these blogs to remain on our platform does a disservice to our readers that outweighs any ostensible value as part of the public record.
How to serve as responsible custodians for this legacy platform is a complex problem that we’re making a good-faith effort to solve consciously and deliberately. The size of our archive is daunting, but our editors will continue to review and remove content that fails to meet our standards when we find it.