The World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed Facebook’s pledge to ensure users can separate fact from fiction when it comes to vaccines, saying it would mean a lot in its efforts to combat the proliferation of fake news across its platforms — from Facebook Search, to Groups, Pages and forums.
Following months of discussions between WHO and Facebook on the spread of inaccuracies when it comes to immunization, the social media giant has vowed to direct millions of users to accurate and reliable vaccine information.
“WHO’s accurate and reliable vaccine information in several languages was pledged to ensure that vital health messages reach people who need them most,” WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebryesus said in a statement.
“Vaccine misinformation is a major threat to global health that could reverse decades of progress made in tackling preventable diseases,” WHO warned. Deadly and debilitating diseases such as diphtheria, hepatitis, polio and measles can be effectively prevented through vaccination.
WHO ranks vaccine reluctance, or hesitancy, among the top 10 threats to global health this year, citing the recent resurgence in measles, which saw a 30 percent increase in cases worldwide.
With the anti-vaccination movement gaining momentum online, immunization rates have plummeted globally as much in wealthy areas as in developing countries — media reports have cited vaccination numbers in California’s Los Angeles as low as those in Chad and South Sudan.