Platforms and UK government agree a package of measures to reduce vaccine disinformation.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden and Health Secretary Matt Hancock have agreed with social media platforms new measures to limit the spread of vaccine misinformation and disinformation and help people find the information they need about any COVID-19 vaccine.
At a virtual roundtable to address the growth of vaccine disinformation, Facebook, Twitter and Google committed to the principle that no company should profit from or promote COVID-19 anti-vaccine disinformation, to respond to flagged content more swiftly, and to work with authorities to promote scientifically accurate messages.
As the UK moves closer to developing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, Mr Dowden and Mr Hancock used the roundtable to welcome the progress these companies have made in strengthening their policies towards false coronavirus information and helping publicise the steps people should take to prevent the spread of the virus.
But the ministers raised concerns about the length of time misleading and false information about coronavirus vaccines remains on platforms, and called for swifter action to tackle such content.
Together the platforms have now agreed:
To commit to the principle that no user or company should directly profit profit from COVID-19 vaccine mis/disinformation. This removes an incentive for this type of content to be promoted, produced and be circulated.
To ensure a timely response to mis/disinformation content flagged to them by the government.
To continue to work with public health bodies to ensure that authoritative messages about vaccine safety reach as many people as possible.
To join new policy forums over the coming months to improve responses to mis/disinformation and to prepare for future threats.
The forums will see the government, social media platforms, public health bodies and academia increase their cooperation and ongoing information sharing to deliver a better understanding of the evolving threat caused by false COVID-19 vaccine narratives.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
Vaccines are overwhelmingly safe and effective healthcare solutions. Ministers used the meeting, which also included representatives from fact-checking charities, academics and data experts, to highlight that robust action must be taken against misleading messaging and content online which could harm and discourage people from protecting themselves or their loved ones.
Throughout the pandemic the government’s Counter Disinformation Unit has been developing a picture of the extent, scope and reach of disinformation and working with online platforms to ensure appropriate action is taken.
The unit has observed a range of false narratives about coronavirus vaccines across multiple platforms, including widespread misuse of scientific findings and baseless claims challenging the safety of vaccines or plans for their deployment.
Ronan Harris, Google UK Managing Director, said:
Katy Minshall, Head of UK Public Policy, Twitter UK, said:
Rebecca Stimson, Facebook’s Head of UK Public Policy, said: