Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Antivax and Amazon

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autismTwitterFacebook, and other social media platforms have helped spread this dangerous myth.

Caitlin Owens at Axios Vitals:
Amazon is the latest tech company to crack down on content spreading false information about vaccines from its platform.
  • Buzzfeed News reported on Friday that anti-vax documentaries were available on Amazon Prime Video on Friday morning, but appeared to have been removed by the afternoon.
  • Around noon, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) — chairman of the House Intelligence Committee — sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos expressing concern that the company was "surfacing and recommending products and content that discourage parents from vaccinating their children, a direct threat to public health."

The big picture: Amazon's actions follow similar ones taken by other tech companies like Google and Facebook, which have also taken steps to reduce the availability of anti-vaccine content on their platforms in response to increased public pressure.
  • Recent measles outbreaks have been attributed, in part, to reduced vaccination levels in some areas.
  • While tech companies have tried to avoid becoming content arbiters, "the issue is harder to duck when the spread of false information can lead to real-world harm," my colleagues Sara Fischer and Kia Kokalitcheva wrote last month.