The UK government plans to convene a summit on social media so that platforms can discuss how to combat misinformation and vaccination advocacy after the United Kingdom experiences a jump in measles cases this year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that he was concerned that in 19659003 more than 230 cases of measles were reported in 19659003 in the first quarter of 2019 in the UK classified as "measles-free" by
. World Health Organization.
Part of Johnson's plan included a call to gather companies on social media, saying authorities should tackle misinformation circulating online about the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella).
"Don't be complacent," he says in a video on Twitter encouraging parents to vaccinate their children. "Don't succumb to the media mambo jumbo for this MMR. We have to protect people. "
Pressure from both US and UK lawmakers call on social media companies to take responsibility for spreading vaccine misinformation on their platforms. The number of cases of measles in the United States in 2019 has exceeded 1000 which, according to federal health officials, 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 were "surfacing and recommending messages that deter parents from vaccinating their children." Schiff cites a Guardian report that suggests Facebook and YouTube searches often lead users to pages showing vaccine misinformation.
A month later Facebook said it would work to tackle vaccine misinformation by lowering the ranking of groups and pages that spread such lies in the news people feed. The platform has also said it will reject ads that include vaccine information and will not display or recommend vaccine misinformation on Instagram search and hashtag pages, one of its properties.
This decision came after Pinterest said it would block search results related to vaccines. YouTube also said it would demonetize anti-wax videos after a February BuzzFeed report of 19659003.
But some vaccines of misinformation are still being spread online. Tech companies like Facebook and Twitter do not have specific policies against general misinformation, so the anti-vaccine propaganda of personal accounts would not violate any rules. But Twitter stated that US and UK users seeking vaccine information would first receive a government information site from the countries concerned.
There were more cases of measles reported worldwide in the first half of 2019 than in 2006 each year, "with outbreaks straining health systems and leading to serious diseases , disability and death, "according to the latest WHO data. The organization said one reason people were not vaccinated included misinformation.
The measles is "almost completely preventable" with two doses of the vaccine, according to the WHO. The country needs 95% of its population to receive both vaccination doses to ensure that measles do not spread.
Johnson's call for a social media summit is not the first time the UK government has encountered online platforms. In February UK lawmakers released a report accusing Facebook of "willfully and knowingly" violating the privacy and competition laws of the UK. The report, which examines the role of social media in preventing misinformation and electoral interference, urges lawmakers to put in place regulations that hold tech giants accountable for the misuse of misinformation on their platforms.
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