Social Networks Against Anti-Vaccine Content

16.03.2019, Newsroom


Social networks are taking steps to counter anti-vaccine information campaigns.

The content against vaccinations has been transferred to social media from traditional media in recent years, such as Instagram, Whatsapp, YouTube and Facebook and has become a headache for the world. The sector was flooded with false information, and representatives of international organizations voiced this.  

Simon Steven, head of the UK National Health Service, says the information against vaccination has helped increase the incidence of measles. According to him, every year about 2-3 million lives are saved in the world thanks to vaccination.

People fall into the trap of fake information mainly on social networks. And, understanding this, Facebook and YouTube have begun to clarify what they need to do in this regard.

Facebook will prevent the spread of such information. The social networking site will stop showing groups and pages that distribute anti-vaccine materials, videos and photos. Also, it will not suggest joining these groups or becoming a friend of these individuals to other users.

Facebook will also continue to hunt anti-vaccination campaigns, as dissemination of such content is against its regulations.

YouTube’s case is a bit different. The United States government is pressuring the technology company to do more to address this problem.

Now, the social network is taking steps to check such suspicious information. In India, the company has already demonstrated a regulation that automatically displays information which is prone to being misinformation. These platforms only show verified content that has been verified by verified users.

In Armenia, there is no statistical data on the quantitative effects of such immunization on vaccination and morality, but the problem is relevant.  

Gayane Sahakyan, Head of the National Immunization Prevention Program at the Ministry of Health says that anti-vaccine materials are in the focus of attention daily in order to understand what content is being circulated.

“There are many negative articles and videos containing misinformation. We are discussing, responding to the posts, but we don’t apply to social networks in order for them to block users or take other actions towards restriction,” said Sahakyan.

According to her, they were practically involved in this issue during the time of the papillomavirus vaccine, as the distribution of terrifying videos on Gardasil involved quite a large number of circles. As a result, a decline in vaccination was recorded.  

“Disinformation spreading videos and articles are not created in Armenia, but they are translated into Armenian and distributed in local groups and social networks,” said the representative of the sector.

The Armenian Mom’s Club is one of the largest Facebook groups where it is forbidden to speak for or against vaccinations or hold discussions about it. The coordinator of the group, Astghik Zakaryan, says that the reason for this ban is that people are not informed, they do not have the necessary knowledge, education or desire to read official materials.

“In the course of the discussion, one writes, ‘Our neighbor's daughter’s baby boy was vaccinated and immediately became sick with Down Syndrome,’ and many of them decide not to vaccinate their child on the basis of similar absurd unreasonableness, jeopardizing the life of both that child, and the surrounding children,” explained Astghik.

In the group, according to her, a discussion on such topics are permitted not on the subject of being for or against vaccination, but rather questions on whether it is possible to vaccinate late, or what kind of vaccinations should be given in what ages etc.. “In such cases, we tag members of our group who are health care professionals, who are expert in this field and who can provide a professional answer.”

Our interlocutor welcomes social networking initiatives since almost all the information about vaccination is false and unproven.

“People today do not want to read, get educated and come to serious conclusions. They prefer to stay away from any risks by not vaccinating children, meanwhile it is hence this decision that causes real trouble and anxiety,” she concluded.

Gayane Asryan

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