Wednesday January 29, 2020

Vaccine Doubts Spread Across Social Media Like Disease, Should be Taken Down: Vaccine Chief

"We have to think about it as a disease. This is a disease," Berkley said. "This spreads at the speed of light, literally"

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measles epidemic
FILE - A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella virus (MMR) vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, Washington, U.S. VOA

Doubts about vaccines have spread across social media like a disease and false information that “kills people” should be taken down by the companies running digital platforms, the head of global vaccine alliance Gavi said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a U.S.-sponsored event on the sidelines of the World Health Organization’s annual assembly in Geneva, Gavi CEO Seth Berkley said there was a strong scientific consensus about the safety of vaccines.

But social media algorithms favored sensational content over scientific facts, rapidly convincing people who had never seen family members die from preventable illness.

“We have to think about it as a disease. This is a disease,” Berkley said. “This spreads at the speed of light, literally.”

vaccine
“A study says @Autism is out of control — a 78% increase in 10 years. Stop giving monstrous combined vaccinations,” Trump tweeted in 2012. Pixabay

WHO says poor vaccination coverage is causing measles outbreaks globally, with numbers spiking in countries that were previously almost free of the disease, including the United States.

Misinformation about vaccines, which the WHO says save two million lives annually, was not a freedom of speech issue and social media firms need to take it offline, Berkley said. “I remind people that this kills people,” he said.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said complacency, misunderstanding and misinformation were causing vaccination rates to decline globally, with tragic results.

“In my country, social media conspiracy groups confuse well-meaning parents so they hesitate to get the recommended vaccinations,” Azar said.

He rejected any criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump, who repeatedly and erroneously tweeted about links between vaccines and autism in the years before he became president.

“A study says @Autism is out of control — a 78% increase in 10 years. Stop giving monstrous combined vaccinations,” Trump tweeted in 2012.

vaccine
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said health authorities needed to “up our game,” adding that she was working with Twitter, Facebook, Google and other tech companies. Pixabay

Azar said Trump was “extremely firm” in support of vaccination.

“If you had been paying attention in the last month, you would know that the President of the United States, President Trump, was very clear and emphatic: get your shots, get your kids vaccinated, vaccines are safe,” Azar said.

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Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said health authorities needed to “up our game,” adding that she was working with Twitter, Facebook, Google and other tech companies.

“You’ve got to get into the trenches … and begin to get engaged much more on a personal and emotional level, because people don’t understand statistics and data. If you do that. (VOA)

Next Story

Instagram Experiences Highest Outrage While Twitter Reports Least in Q4

The Facebook family of social media sites outage on November 28, 2019 was one of many social outages in Q4 2019

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Instagram
A combined 34,408 Facebook and Instagram users reported outages. Pixabay

Facebook-owned Instagram experienced the highest outage in the fourth quarter of 2019 with 21,682 reports at the peak on November 28, 2019, while Twitter reported the least amount of outage complaints with 15,952 reports at the peak on October 22, 2019, according to a new report on Tuesday.

The Twitter outage lasted only about a half an hour, leaving unable to tweet, retweet, like tweets or access their account at the peak of the outage, according to the findings by Downdetector, a company which tracks outages in technology platforms and social media sites. Facebook also experienced an outage on November 28 with 12,726 reports at the peak. The outage lasted about five hours and affected users across the globe.

“The Facebook family of social media sites outage on November 28, 2019 was one of many social outages in Q4 2019. The outage lasted about five hours and affected users in the US, Germany, Italy and Spain,” said the report titled “What Went Down? The Most Significant Online Service Outages in Q4 2019”.

“A combined 34,408 Facebook and Instagram users reported outages at the peak of the outage,” it added. Facebook’s Messenger app experienced a smaller outage on November 18, 2019 with 8,952 users reporting outages at the peak.

Instagram
Facebook-owned Instagram experienced the highest outage in the fourth quarter of 2019 with 21,682 reports at the peak on November 28, 2019, while Twitter reported the least amount of outage complaints with 15,952 reports at the peak on October 22, 2019. Pixabay

Snapchat, the popular multimedia messaging app was down for five and a half hours on October 14, 2019, leaving users unable to chat, send or receive photos from their friends. At the peak of the outage, 18,252 users from the US reported problems.

The outage was so significant as the hashtag #SnapchatDown was trending on Twitter at the time of the outage.In the mobile operators category, Vodafone was down for about four hours for thousands of users on October 23, 2019.

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At the peak of the outage, 21,065 users, primarily in Germany, reported having problems with their service, said the report. (IANS)