U.K. health minister leans on social media platforms to delete anti-vax content

TechCrunch | 4/25/2019 | Staff
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Social media-fuelled anti-vaxxer propaganda is the latest online harm the U.K. government is targeting.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program this morning health secretary Matt Hancock said he will meet with representatives from social media platforms on Monday to pressure them into doing more to prevent false information about the safety of vaccinations from being amplified by their platforms.

Monday - Media - Impact - Vaccination - Warning

“I’m seeing them on Monday to require that they do more to take down wrong — well lies essentially — that are promoted on social media about the impact of vaccination,” he said, when asked about a warning by a U.K. public health body about the risk of a public health emergency being caused by an increase in the number of British children who have not received the measles vaccination.

“Vaccination is safe; it’s very, very important for the public health, for everybody’s health and we’re going to tackle it.”

Head - NHS - England - Month - Anti-vaccination

The head of NHS England also warned last month about anti-vaccination messages gaining traction on social media.

“We need to tackle this risk in people not vaccinating,” Hancock added. “One of the things I’m particularly worried about is the spread of anti-vaccination messages online. I’ve called in the social media companies like we had to for self-harming imagery a couple of months ago.”

Hancock - UK - Minister - Health - Brief

Hancock, who between 2016 and 2018 served as the U.K.’s digital minister, prior to taking over the health brief, held a similar meeting with the boss of Instagram earlier this year.

That followed a public outcry over suicide content spreading on Instagram after a British schoolgirl was reported to have been encouraged to killed herself by graphic content on the Facebook -owned platform.

Instagram - Policy - Change

Instagram subsequently announced a policy change saying it...
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