Caller questions proposed ban on anti-vaccine content online

16 November 2020, 09:07 | Updated: 16 November 2020, 09:10

This caller was shocked Labour are trying to restrict freedom of speech

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

With the news MPs have called for new laws to tackle vaccine-related conspiracy theories about Covid vaccines one caller questioned why?

John from Swanage told LBC's Nick Ferrari he "couldn't believe my ears," when he heard the news that Labour's shadow health secretary had called for new laws to tackle "nonsensical" conspiracy theories about coronavirus vaccines.

Over the weekend Jonathan Ashworth said there should be penalties for social media platforms which allow misinformation to spread, and he urged the Government to bring forward its Online Harms Bill.

He said fewer people choosing to take the vaccine due to online misinformation was "the last thing we want".

Caller John told LBC he "couldn't believe they were going to try and ban something from social media because of freedom of speech."

But the caller seemed even more shocked that it was a Labour Party MP who had proposed the rules.

"Of course" Health Sec says he supports restricting anti-vax messages online.

He said it is the "party you would normally associate with free speech and socialist views."

"And allowing people to make up their own minds, and they're trying to ban it?"

He asked, "what is so different about vaccines from all other aspects of life."

John said social media could be used to "make all sorts of comments about people, about religion as long as you don't break any laws."

He said having a "sensible and grown-up adult discussion" should be the way forward.

When Nick questioned if it was not dangerous the caller said he thought "plenty of people" will still take the vaccine.

On Sky News, Mr Ashworth called on the Government to deal with "some of the dangerous, nonsensical anti-vax stuff that we've seen spreading on social media."

Some of the "poison garbage" conspiracy theories on social media suggested that the vaccine is being developed by "big global business people who want to use it to insert microchips into people", he said.

Jo Stevens on need to monitor disinformation on Covid vaccine

A Government spokesperson said: "Letting vaccine disinformation spread unchecked could cost British lives.

"We take this issue extremely seriously and have secured a major commitment from Facebook, Twitter and Google to tackle it by not profiting from such material, and by responding to flagged content more swiftly.

"We continue to work closely with social media firms to promote authoritative sources of information so people have access to vaccine facts not fiction."

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