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November 16, 2020

UK Government called to stamp out anti-vaccine messaging

By Paul Dennis

16 November

The Labour party in the UK has called for immediate laws to stamp out dangerous anti-vaccine content online.

Within hours of progress of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine announcement, online posts were popping up on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. The misleading information included chats and comments on vaccines causing deliberate harm, the government inserting chips to alter DNA and vaccines as weapons of genocide.

Chris Dillow, an economist, shared his views on how Labour’s stand to introduce new emergency laws to stop anti-vaccination fake content online could reinforce anti-vaxxer’s conspiracy theories.

Labour is pressing for criminal and financial charges for social media firms who are not removing misleading or fear inducing stories about vaccines, the article noted. The news comes right after progress was announced in the development of the first Covid-19 vaccine.

The government is taking the matter extremely seriously, and has restored commitment from firms such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter to tackle anti-vaccine content online. According to social media firms, false content is described as either being disputed or misleading and have been actively removing such posts as per the terms of their contract, the article highlighted.

However, according to Dillow, the Labour move on this issue rather than on government corruption or its incompetence was a huge disappointment and could lead to bigger problems with anti-vaxxers.

The Labour party also believed that mere commitment by the platforms to disengage or removed government-flagged content was not enough.

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, stated that such content was exploiting the fears of people and initiated mistrust against the government and institutions. As a result, the party was interested in working with the government to promote vaccine adoption and build trust.

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