Ministers have been urged to take tougher action on companies that fail to eliminate anti-vaccination content online, as posters with hundreds of thousands of social media followers have been revealed to continue to appear. generate disinformation.
After Boris Johnson said up to 90% of Covid patients in intensive care across England had not received their third booster vaccine, Labor accused the government of being complacent on “an issue of life or death ”and not having resisted the giant social media.
Leading anti-vaccines on Instagram, Facebook and Telegram still have nearly 1.5 million subscribers, according to analysis compiled by Labor. The most popular were in the name of David Icke, a conspiracy theorist who mistakenly believes the coronavirus is spread through 5G.
Some of the disinformation is also hosted on an alternative streaming site – BrandNewTube – a link to which is then posted on other mainstream social media sites.
The videos racked up to 3.7 million views, sparking fears that during a crucial stage in the recall program some people would be deterred from getting stung. About 10% of eligible people did not receive their first vaccine, rising to 17% for a second dose. The deployment of the booster is still underway but 42% of people have not yet received a third vaccine.
Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell said the continued spread of vaccine misinformation online “is affecting vaccine uptake, and addressing this issue is critical to getting people vaccinated. not vaccinated ”.
As the government urged everyone eligible for a booster vaccine to accept the offer, she added, “One person rejected the vaccine by dangerous anti-vaccines is one too many.”
Powell said the tech giants “are failing to eliminate lies about vaccines” and that “the government’s complacency on fake news means they are not taking action against online platforms that facilitate the spread of disinformation “. She called it a “matter of life and death” and called on ministers to stand up to social media companies, “ignore their apologies and introduce financial and criminal penalties for breaches causing serious harm.”
It was also claimed that a government-commissioned body known as the Anti-Disinformation Policy Forum was disbanded in June 2021. It brought together social media companies, academics and auditors from the made in response to fears about the damage caused by anti-vaxxers.
Powell requested an update on the forum in a parliamentary written question, but in his response DCMS Minister Chris Philp said he had “concluded.” He added that the department “still regularly meets with major social media platforms bilaterally” to discuss the matter.
A government spokesperson said ministers had “provided people with advice and information on vaccines in one of the most comprehensive public health campaigns ever.”
They added that although a pilot project ended this summer, a counter-disinformation unit still exists and “continues to work closely with social media companies to identify and remove dangerous misinformation about vaccines.”
The spokesperson said: “Our tough new online security laws will force these companies to act. Now that parliament has provided the necessary scrutiny of the legislation, we will bring it forward as soon as possible. “
A high-ranking government source said: ‘It is such a shame that Labor is spreading their own disinformation in a desperate attempt to score political points in the fight against the virus. The counter-disinformation unit continues to do its job and has not been withdrawn. “
Just before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, the World Health Organization declared in 2019 that vaccine reluctance was one of the top 10 threats to global health and that it was important that people receive “credible information” about immunization to understand the benefits of getting stung.
Last October, The Guardian revealed that lies and conspiracy theories about Covid-19 had racked up millions of views on TikTok and were accessible to young children.