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British Labour Party calls for new laws to tackle online anti-vaxx campaigns

Published on 16/11/20 at 12:46pm
Photo by Daniel Paquet from Regina, Canada

The British Labour Party has called for the implementation of new legal measures to combat anti-vaccination campaigns on the internet and social media. 

Labour said that major social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and search engines like Google (who also own YouTube), are not doing enough to combat misinformation. Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, said that the content is “exploiting people's fears, their mistrust of institutions and governments and spreading poison and harm.” He added there is nothing wrong with asking legitimate questions about vaccines, but hopes that more action on social media combined with “messaging from the government, reinforced by us, will allay those fears.”

This follows last week, when the British Government agreed a package of measures with social media companies to tackle anti-vaxx campaigns and private groups, including Google, Facebook and Twitter. 

The agreements outlined were: 

  • To commit to the principle that no user or company should directly profit from COVID-19 vaccine mis/disinformation. This removes an incentive for this type of content to be promoted, produced and be circulated
  • To ensure a timely response to mis/disinformation content flagged to them by the government
  • To continue to work with public health bodies to ensure that authoritative messages about vaccine safety reach as many people as possible
  • To join new policy forums over the coming months to improve responses to mis/disinformation and to prepare for future threats

After the meeting, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “After clean water, vaccination is the most effective public health intervention in the world and has saved countless lives across the globe, eradicating one disease entirely. I am encouraged that social media companies have agreed to do more to prevent the spread of dangerous misinformation and disinformation on their platforms. We want users to have greater access to reliable and scientifically-accurate information on vaccines from trusted sources like the NHS so they can make informed decisions to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

 

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