American Medical Association urges Social Media Companies to Combat Vaccine Misinformation | site |


(Information contained in American Medical Association [AMA] press release dated: December 21, 2020)

Chicago - - As the United States begins an unprecedented effort to administer COVID-19 vaccines to more than 300 million Americans, the American Medical Association (AMA) today urged the CEOs of six leading social media and e-commerce companies to assist the effort by combatting misinformation and disinformation about the vaccine on their platforms. The AMA also urged the platforms to share timely, accurate information on the vaccine from trusted public health institutions, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The letter was sent to the top executives at Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube.

“As we work tirelessly to stop the spread of COVID-19, please remain vigilant against the proliferation of unintentional misinformation and purposeful disinformation on your platforms,” wrote AMA CEO and EVP James L. Madara, M.D. “Our AMA appreciates the actions many of you have taken to identify, label and, in some cases, remove misinformation regarding vaccines in general and COVID-19 vaccines in particular, but we know more can be done in this regard. We encourage you to continue evaluating your existing policies that are designed to combat misinformation to ensure they are as effective and comprehensive as possible. Lives—and the success of this historic effort—are on the line.”

The full text of the letter is below, and can be downloaded by clicking here.

Dear CEOs of Leading Technology Companies:

As the United States begins a historic and unprecedented campaign to administer COVID-19 vaccines to hundreds of millions of people across the country, I urge you on behalf of the physician and medical student members of the American Medical Association (AMA), to guard against disinformation that could derail this herculean effort. As we work tirelessly to stop the spread of COVID-19, please remain vigilant against the proliferation of unintentional misinformation and purposeful disinformation on your platforms.

It is especially important that social media platforms share timely, transparent and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines from public health institutions like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that are rooted in science and evidence. This task becomes even more significant in the face of multiple, sophisticated disinformation campaigns targeting the American people by foreign governments through proxy news sites, social media personas and other means, as documented by the U.S. State Department. Your vigilance will provide significant lift to efforts by leading health care organizations to overcome vaccine hesitancy and promote widespread vaccine acceptance at a moment when vaccinations are critical.

Increasing COVID-19 vaccine acceptance is particularly important within marginalized and minoritized communities who have a historically well-founded mistrust of medical institutions, as these same patient populations have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The immunization campaign now underway will save lives and preserve the well-being of all, including those individuals who cannot receive the vaccine due to underlying health concerns.

Our AMA appreciates the actions many of you have taken to identify, label and, in some cases, remove misinformation regarding vaccines in general and COVID-19 vaccines in particular, but we know more can be done in this regard. We encourage you to continue evaluating your existing policies that are designed to combat misinformation to ensure they are as effective and comprehensive as possible. Lives--and the success of this historic effort--are on the line.

The AMA is encouraged that some organizations have stepped up to help shoulder the burden of identifying and eliminating misinformation online before it is widely disseminated. Policing misinformation online is far too great a challenge for any one entity to take on alone. We must work collaboratively to close the vaccine data deficit and convey evidence-based information about vaccines from credible sources to create a common understanding of facts. That is the only way to empower people to make informed decisions about their health.

The COVID-19 vaccination campaign is critically important to ending the most severe public health crisis we have faced in generations. Widespread access to accurate, evidence-based information that is grounded in science is key to our success.

Thank you for your cooperation, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

James L. Madara, M.D.
AMA CEO and EVP