Pediatrician Association Urges Social Media Titans to Eliminate Fake Vaccine News

Fake vaccine information can influence adults who believe they know more than medical experts
social media, woman connecting with other people online

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) sent letters to the CEOs of 3 major social media companies, Google, Facebook, and Pinterest, highlighting the expanding threat vaccine misinformation poses to children’s health. 

As more parents turn to social media to gather information that shapes vaccination opinions, the consequences of fake-news plays out in the real world. 

AAP President Kyle E. Yasuda, MD, FAAP,  said in a press release, “Our worst fears are being realized as measles outbreaks spread across the country. I reached out to the technology industry with an urgent request to work together to combat the dangerous spread of vaccine misinformation online.” 

While Facebook, Google, and Pinterest have each indicated that they are taking steps to address the unique vulnerabilities in their respective platforms, the AAP urges more be done to ensure that parents are equipped with credible information from verified sources about vaccines. 

Though robust scientific research demonstrates that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving, inaccurate and misleading content about vaccines proliferates online, said the AAP. 

“Pediatricians talk with families every day about their children’s health, and we respect parents who disagree with us.” 

“We have found that continuing to talk with parents who are hesitant about vaccines is the best way to bring them closer to a decision to vaccinate their child. The same is true in the social media space,” writes Dr. Yasuda. 

Dr. Yasuda wrote, “It will take commitments across all sectors—local and federal government, the medical and public health community, and the technology industry—to do so.” 

Three recent studies support the AAP position on vaccine fake news. 

Vaccines, similar to medications, can cause side effects, which should be reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists. Follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.