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Home / Health / British government calls on social media companies to tackle vaccine misinformation

British government calls on social media companies to tackle vaccine misinformation



The UK Government is planning a social media summit to allow platforms to discuss how to tackle vaccination misinformation and propaganda after the UK has seen an increase in measles cases this year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this on Monday He is concerned about the fact that in the first quarter of 2019 in the United Kingdom more than 230 cases of measles were reported which were classified by the World Health Organization as "free of fibers".

Johnson's plan calls for a gathering of social media companies to eliminate the misinformation circulating on the internet about the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella).

"Do not be complacent," he said in a video on Twitter, in which he asked parents to vaccinate their children. "Do not let the media mumbo jumble about this MMR steal us out of harm's way."

The pressure of the British government comes in as legislators The US also demands that social media companies take responsibility for distributing incorrect vaccine information on their platforms. The number of measles cases in the US exceeded 1,000 in 2019 which, according to federal health authorities, is the worst outbreak of the disease in 25 years.

In February, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressing concern that Instagram and Facebook "surfaced and recommended messages to parents stop vaccinating their children ". Ship cited a Guardian Report in which search queries were suggested Facebook and YouTube frequently took users to sites where vaccine misinformation was displayed.

A month later Facebook announced it would take action against vaccine misinformation by lowering the rankings of groups and sites on which such lies were spread in people's news feed. The platform also said it would decline ads that contain vaccine information, and do not display or recommend vaccine misinformation on search and hashtag pages on Instagram, one of their features.

This decision came after Pinterest said she would block out finding results for vaccines . YouTube also said it would dismantle anti-Vax videos following a February report from Buzzfeed.

However, some vaccine misinformation is still spreading online. Technically, companies like Facebook and Twitter have no specific guidelines against common misinformation, so propaganda against vaccines in personal accounts does not violate rules. But Twitter has said that users in the US and UK who are looking for vaccine information first received a website with government information from their respective countries.

There were more reports of measles cases [19659003] worldwide in the first half of 2019 than in any year since 2006, "with outbreaks that burden health systems and lead to serious illnesses, disabilities and deaths," according to recent data the WHO. One of the reasons people were not vaccinated, according to the organization, was misinformation.

According to the WHO, measles are "almost completely preventable" with two vaccine doses. One country needs 95% of its population to receive both vaccine doses so that the measles do not spread.

Johnson's call for a summit of social media companies is not the first time that the British government has collided with online platforms. In February the UK legislature issued a report accusing Facebook of "intentionally and knowingly" violating UK data protection and competition laws. In this report, which looked at the role of social media in misinformation dissemination and electoral intervention, lawmakers were asked to legislate to hold technicians accountable for the malicious dissemination of misinformation on their platforms should.


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