HSE reaches agreement with social media companies over vaccine information

Users looking for information on Covid-19 vaccine will be directed to HSE website

The HSE has reached an agreement with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. File photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The HSE has reached an agreement with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. File photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

 

Health officials have reached an agreement with major social media companies to ensure anyone searching online for information on Covid-19 vaccines will be directed to reliable sources.

The move comes amid concerns around the world regarding misinformation and vaccine scepticism as efforts ramp up to ensure necessary public participation.

“We are providing regularly updated information on the HSE website and are working with Facebook and Twitter to make sure the public get accurate, reliable health information in relation to vaccines,” Paul Reid, HSE chief executive said on Wednesday.

The HSE said its agreements with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram mean searches for vaccine information in Ireland will prompt users to visit its website in the first instance.

“We had similar partnerships in relation to [general] Covid-19 information. We would ask that people get their information from reputable sources and follow the public health advice,” it said.

Dr Ronan Glynn, a deputy chief medical officer at the Department of Health said such efforts to counter misinformation and disinformation related to the virus was welcome.

“The potential for false claims, myth and rumour to negatively influence those in our society who have genuine and very understandable questions about the new vaccine remains a concern,” he said.

Twitter has recently expanded its misinformation policy to cover tweets it believes are advancing “harmful, false or misleading narratives” about vaccinations. Facebook said that since March it has been providing free advertising for public health campaigns “connecting people to accurate and authoritative information and preventing the spread of harmful misinformation.”

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