Doctors warn Google, Twitter and Facebook against anti-vaxxers



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  • The American Medical Association (AMA) is concerned that anti-vaxxers are militarizing the world's largest social media platforms, including Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
  • Parents often use these platforms to spread misinformation about vaccine hazards that are not real.
  • Doctors say that the content has a dangerous impact on the number of people vaccinated in America and that this could have deadly consequences.
  • "It's important that people not only know that these diseases still exist and can still weaken and kill, but that vaccines are a safe and proven way to protect them," says AMA's letter.

Doctors believe that too many American children miss vaccines and that false news that spreads like wildfire on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube could be largely to blame.

On Wednesday, the American Medical Association (AMA), the largest group of professional doctors in the United States, sent an open letter to CEOs of Amazon, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube, expressing his concern that parents accept all kinds of false information about children's vaccines from inaccurate videos, messages and links on their platforms.

"Doctors across the country are troubled by reports of anti-vaccine messages and announcements targeting parents looking for information about vaccines on your platforms," ​​the chief executive officer said. AMA, James Madara. "We urge you to do your part so that users have access to scientifically valid information about vaccinations, so that they can make informed decisions about the health of their families."

The anti-vaxx content that has appeared on social media for years seems to be having a detrimental effect: a recent British study suggests that two in five parents have been exposed to anti-vaccine content on social media, and more a four believe, wrongly, that a person may have "too many" vaccines.

In the United States, researchers are worried about several "hot spots" that could trigger an illness, especially in Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Phoenix, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; Houston, Texas; and Detroit, Michigan.

Measles, a vaccine-preventable disease that was almost unknown in the United States in the early 2000s, is spreading to more and more rich countries where people neglect to be vaccinated. In 2018, measles killed 72 people in Europe and more than 225 people in the United States have contracted measles so far this year.

Some big tech companies are starting to take note of it.

Last Thursday, Facebook promised to downgrade anti-vaxx pages on its site. Ethan Lindenberger, an 18-year-old who recently took the initiative to start catching up on childhood vaccines, said his mother often used Facebook to spread false information about vaccines to her friends and to make him believe that the vaccines were dangerous. for him.

"His love, affection and concern as a parent have been used," Lindenberger told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Work and Pensions last week.

Pinterest takes a more conservative approach by completely blocking vaccine searches. Amazon is also taking steps to remove anti-vaxx videos and stop selling books containing quack medical "remedies," as NBC reported on Tuesday.

Rhett Krawitt (photo here with mom Jodi) can not be vaccinated because his immune system is too vulnerable. Krawitt relies on the power of a large and vaccinated population to protect him from diseases.
Reuters / Elijah New

Physicians could also tackle the problem further, as studies suggest they are among the most reliable sources that reluctant parents can consult to change their minds. Here is the letter from WADA in full:

Dear CEOs of major technology companies,

At a time when vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, are re-emerging in the United States and threatening communities and public health, the country's doctors are troubled by information and anti-vaccine messages and ads targeting parents looking for information about the vaccine on their platforms. . As physicians, we are concerned that the proliferation of this kind of health-related disinformation will compromise the validity of scientific knowledge, further reduce the number of vaccinations and persuade people to make medical decisions that may trigger the spread of the disease. easily preventable diseases.

With online public health and social media as the primary source of information for the American people, we urge you to do your part so that users have access to scientifically valid information about immunizations so that they can make decisions. informed about their vaccination. family health. We also invite you to make your projects public to ensure that users have access to accurate, timely and scientifically reliable vaccine information.

We applaud the companies that have already taken action, but we encourage you to continue to evaluate the impact of these policies and to take additional steps to resolve the problem as needed.

There is ample scientific evidence that vaccines are among the most effective and safest interventions to prevent disease and protect public health. When vaccination rates are high, people who can not be protected directly by vaccines are protected because they are not exposed to the disease. This includes children too young to receive vaccines and people with medical contraindications.

The reductions in immunization coverage threaten to erase many years of progress as nearly eliminated and preventable diseases reappear, leading to disease, disability and death. In order to protect the health of our communities, it is important that people not only know that these diseases still exist and can still weaken and kill, but that vaccines are a safe and proven way to protect them.

As evidenced by the measles epidemics that currently affect communities in several states, when people decide not to be immunized for reasons of personal preference or misinformation, they expose themselves, as well as others. , at the risk of contracting the disease. This is why it is extremely important that people seeking immunization information have access to accurate, evidence-based and science-based information.

Thank you for your attention on this critical public health issue. We look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

James L. Madara, M.D.

CEO, Executive Vice President, Americal Medical Association

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