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Senator Blumenthal demands Facebook and Twitter curb vaccine-skeptic conversations

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Connecticut’s Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, is calling on Facebook and Twitter to act on vaccine skeptic conversations, particularly around pregnant women.

Sen. Blumenthal penned a letter to both Facebook and Twitter.

“Time and again, Facebook and its peers have moved far too slow in responding to the targeted harassment and promotion of destructive conspiracy theories against women and people of color.

“These mothers, through raising awareness to the vaccine and setting an example for the community, are doing an immense public service and lovingly protecting their infants. They are also acting responsibly,” Blumenthal wrote in the letter to Facebook.

The letter was sent a few days after The Daily Beast published a story on how vaccine skeptics have been sending messages to pregnant women who have gotten the vaccine. In one incident, vaccine skeptics were accused of harassing a medical worker who miscarried a few days after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

From the letter:

“Such disinformation is clearly coordinated, often through private groups and public pages that scour social media for targets and anecdotes for feeding their campaign. One Instagram account, in operation since December with over 100,000 followers, continues to promote misinformation and misleading anecdotes about vaccine safety and the effectiveness of facemasks. These accounts and groups, on both Facebook and Twitter, have also become a launching point for swarms of believers to prey on mothers to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Despite a clear pattern of violating platform policies, these accounts are still active, with large numbers of followers and are easily findable.”

Blumenthal’s concerns seem to stem from the fact that vaccine-skeptic content is still available on social media platforms, despite the Big Tech platforms having new policies against it.

Last month Facebook vowed to remove all alleged misinformation related to all kinds of vaccines. Twitter also intensified its crackdown on the same but did not expand its policies to cover all vaccines.

The Connecticut senator demanded Twitter and Facebook write a detailed response on how they are enforcing their vaccine-skeptic content removal policies by the end of this month.

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