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Anti-vaccination Disinformation Online

Volume 684: debated on Tuesday 17 November 2020

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on tackling anti-vaccination disinformation online; and if he will make a statement. (908873)

The Culture Secretary and I discuss regularly with social media platforms the action that is needed to tackle vaccination disinformation online. I am encouraged by the fact that social media companies who have attended meetings with us have agreed to commit to the principle that no user or company should directly profit from covid-19 vaccine disinformation and to ensure a timely response when we flag such content to them.

It is obviously tremendous news that a vaccine will be available and that the people in the UK may be among some of the first in the world to receive it, but it is important that there is public confidence in the vaccine. The anti-vaccine movement is damaging: it is a threat to public health. Does my right hon. Friend agree that social media companies should not just be taking down anti-vaccine material when they are notified of it, but proactively looking for it on the internet and removing it themselves?

Yes, absolutely. A critical part of tackling disinformation is providing accurate, fair and objective positive information, and my hon. Friend is absolutely right about this point. The social media companies are working—and we are providing content for them—to ensure that proper, accurate information that the public can trust from the NHS about the effectiveness of vaccines can be promoted, as well as taking action to remove information that is not accurate and not correct.