The World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed this week’s commitment from Facebook to direct users seeking information on vaccinations to reliable and accurate vaccination information.
Vaccine misinformation is classified as one of the top 10 threats to global health and has the potential to undo decades of progress made fighting preventable diseases. Guiding people to factual, proven information rather than the misinformed opinions, unproven assumptions and, in many instances, outright fabrications found on many anti-vaccination sites, is Facebook’s latest strategy to tackle that threat.
In a recent statement, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “Facebook will direct millions of its users to WHO’s accurate and reliable vaccine information [available] in several languages, to ensure that vital health messages reach people who need them the most.
“The World Health Organization and Facebook have been in discussions for several months to ensure people can access authoritative information on vaccines and reduce the spread of inaccuracies.”
Dr Ghebreyesus listed some of the debilitating and deadly diseases can be effectively prevented by their use, including measles, diphtheria, hepatitis, polio, cholera, yellow fever and influenza, before reminding digital organisations of the opportunity they have.
“Major digital organisations have a responsibility to their users to ensure that they can access facts about vaccines and health,” he said. “It would be great to see social and search platforms come together to leverage their combined reach.
“We want digital actors doing more to make it known around the world that #Vaccineswork.”
Dr Ghebreyesus also called online efforts to be matched by tangible steps by governments and the health sector to promote trust in vaccination and respond to the needs and concerns of parents.