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Minister for Health Simon Harris has met with the social media companies, Facebook, Twitter, and Google, to discuss the measures they are taking to combat anti-vaccination misinformation on social media platforms.
Vaccine hesitancy has been identified by the World Health Organisation as one of the ten leading threats to global health in 2019.
The Minister outlined his concerns: “The progress we have made in reducing, and in some cases eradicating, vaccine-preventable diseases will be in vain if we allow our immunisation programmes to be undermined by misinformation and disinformation about the benefits and safety of vaccines, particularly on social media”.
He added: “Social media is an incredibly powerful tool that can also be harnessed to direct people to sources of factual information about vaccination, so they can make informed decisions. It is in this context that I met with the social media companies today”.
The Minister commended the social media companies for being proactive and putting in place measures to tackle this issue and he welcomed their commitment to work with the Department of Health to make further progress.
However, he added: “The companies themselves acknowledged they have a responsibility to their users in the area of public health. While some of them have taken measures to combat vaccine misinformation, they acknowledged there was much more work to be done and agreed to liaise with the Department regarding the work of the Vaccine Alliance and with the HSE to progress further initiatives.
“We must do everything we can to ensure people get accurate and reputable information on public health.”