Media and tech firms join forces to tackle harmful Covid vaccine myths

A coalition of news providers and tech companies has pledged to work together to tackle harmful misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines. The Trusted News Initiative’s members include the BBC, Reuters, Facebook, Google/YouTube and Twitter.

The project was set up last year to combat fake news around elections.
BBC director general Tim Davie said: “Whether it’s a threat to our health or a threat to our democracy, there is a human cost to disinformation.” He said 2020 had seen “the rapid spread of harmful disinformation and a growing number of conspiracy theories online”.

The project would not prevent “legitimate concerns” about vaccines being aired, but would attempt to stop “harmful disinformation myths”, Mr Davie added.

False claims about the vaccines have been rife on social media. The World Health Organization has said the world is fighting an “infodemic” as well as a pandemic, with an overload of information – some of it false – making it difficult for people to make decisions about their health.

The Trusted News Initiative said its members would alert each other to “disinformation which poses an immediate threat to life so content can be reviewed promptly by platforms, whilst publishers ensure they don’t unwittingly republish dangerous falsehoods”.