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Vaccination: Disinformation

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 49214, tabled on 14 September 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent steps his Department has taken to prevent the spread of vaccine misinformation online.

Answered on

22 September 2021

The government takes the issue of disinformation very seriously. The Cross-Whitehall Counter Disinformation Unit located in DCMS was stood up on 5 March 2020, bringing together cross-Government monitoring and analysis capabilities to tackle disinformation and misinformation, including relating to COVID-19.

The government is committed to ensuring that the information people access about COVID-19 and the vaccine is accurate, so that everyone is able to make informed decisions about their health. We are working with social media platforms to ensure promotion of authoritative sources of information, and to help them identify and remove incorrect claims about COVID-19 and the vaccine in line with their terms and conditions. We have also developed the SHARE checklist, which aims to increase audience resilience by educating and empowering those who see, inadvertently share and are affected by false and misleading information. The SHARE checklist provides five easy steps to help identify false content, encouraging users to stop and think before they share content online.

The Online Safety Bill will give companies clear legal responsibilities to understand the risk of harm to users and put in place systems and processes to improve user safety. The new laws will have robust and proportionate measures to deal with misinformation and disinformation that could cause significant physical or psychological harm to an individual, such as anti-vaccination content and falsehoods about COVID-19.