Government To Ask Social Media To Take Down Anti-Vax Content

25 April 2019, 08:27

The Health Secretary is to ask social media companies to remove all content against vaccinations to curb a rise in measles cases.

New figures show more than half a million children in the UK weren't vaccinated against measles over an eight-year period.

The figures from Unicef coincide with a sharp rise in cases of the disease. Last year, the number trebled in England to almost 1,000.

And speaking to Nick Ferrari, Matt Hancock revealed he is to ask social media companies to act - and may even look to legislate over anti-vax posts.

Nick Ferrari spoke to Matt Hancock about vaccinations
Nick Ferrari spoke to Matt Hancock about vaccinations. Picture: LBC

He said: "I'm very worried about this. The rise in people not vaccinating has happened for a number of years. It's happening across the Western world and we have to halt it. It's dangerous for public health.

"On Monday, I am calling in the social media companies to ask them to take down material which is against vaccination.

"We should be relying on medical facts.

"Measles is a horrible disease and because it's highly contagious, we need everyone to be vaccinating."

A child with a measles rash
A child with a measles rash. Picture: Getty

Nick asked if the government should be educating people, rather than censoring information, but Mr Hancock insisted: "There is an education programme, but it's not just about having the right information, it's also about making sure that when information that is completely wrong is passed around, that is tackled as well.

"You've got to make sure that people get the right sources of information and not the lies."

The Health Secretary admitted he has little power to force social media companies to act, but added: "Ultimately, parliament can legislate if we need to."

People protest against a law requiring vaccinations
People protest against a law requiring vaccinations. Picture: PA

In the UK last year, there were 966 cases of measles, substantially up from 259 the previous year.