Social media platforms urged to be more transparent about vaccine misinformation

A new poll suggests most Australians fear unchecked online misinformation could impact COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

social media

Social media apps Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Source: AAP

Most Australians fear online misinformation could discourage people from getting vaccinated for COVID-19 and want social media platforms to be more transparent about the extent of the problem, new polling suggests.

Reset Australia, an organisation working to counter digital threats to democracy, commissioned a YouGov poll of 1014 Australians to gage the level of concern about vaccine misinformation.

Eighty-five per cent of respondents thought misleading claims about coronavirus vaccines on social media could discourage some Australians from being vaccinated.

Meanwhile, 61 per cent supported social media companies being required to notify public health authorities about the most popular URLs or website links concerning COVID-19.

Reset Australia executive director Chris Cooper said people ultimately wanted greater transparency about the extent of misinformation.

“We can’t see each other’s news feeds, and that makes it very difficult to assess the problem,” Mr Cooper told SBS News.

“However, what we’re seeing with a series of studies across the world is that misinformation, particularly around COVID, is absolutely rampant on these platforms.”


He said greater transparency would allow a proper diagnosis of the problem.

Reset Australia is campaigning for digital platforms to maintain a live list of the most viral URLs being shared, allowing health officials, journalists and academics to track and trace misinformation and better target public health messaging.

“We’re essentially seeing the harms from misinformation, but because of the design of the platforms and because there is no transparency or accountability, it’s very difficult for us to actually put a measure to how bad the problem is,” Mr Cooper said.

Published 27 December 2020 at 3:14pm
By SBS News