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White House working with Facebook, Twitter to tackle anti-vaxxers

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The event illustrated the extent to which social media platforms have become a critical organizing tool for movements such as; the anti-vaccine drive, that spread misinformation and disinformation.

 

A growing number of anti-vaccine activists, emboldened by their rising social media following; have helped the movement gain strength in the United States.

 

A report by the Center for Countering Digital Health in July 2020 found social media accounts held by; anti-vaxxers have increased their following by at least 7·8 million people since 2019.

 

The companies have repeatedly vowed to get rid of such material on their platforms but gaps remain in their enforcement efforts.

 

On Thursday, Senator Richard Blumenthal criticized the platforms in a tweet for carrying ads that he said funds; and promotes “dangerous conspiracy theories, COVID-19 disinformation and malign foreign propaganda.”

 

A Facebook spokeswoman said that the company has reached out to the White House to offer “any assistance we can provide”; and has recently announced a new policy to remove COVID and vaccine misinformation along with pages, groups; and accounts that repeatedly spread such material.

 

A Twitter spokesman said the company is “in regular communication with the White House; on a number of critical issues including COVID-19 misinformation.”

 

Alphabet Inc’s Google did not comment on engagement with the White House; instead pointing to a company blog on and how it stops misinformation.

 

The source said the companies “were receptive” as they engaged with the White House. “But it is too soon to say; whether or not it translates into lessening the spread of misinformation.”

 

There will be more details on how the White House is engaging with the social media companies on this issue in the “next ten days or so”, the source added.

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