Twitter has decided to throw its weight behind another divisive political and ideological topic: the pro- and anti-vaccine debate.
Activism against forced inoculation is seen as misinformation and the aim is to fight it with credible information.
Those who oppose vaccination hold that it causes more harm than good – and they insist on having the right to their opinion and actions thanks to the freedoms guaranteed by their respective countries. On the other hand, the authorities maintain that vaccines are safe and necessary to prevent public health crises.
This debate mainly rages in the United States where it is at times a major political and social topic and controversy. Twitter and other social media websites found themselves under pressure to suppress anti-vaccination content, and in May, the platform introduced a search tool in the US directing users to the US Department of Health-run vaccines.org.
And now, Twitter has decided to do something about the topic in Europe.
Twitter is partnering with Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) to implement “a proactive tool” giving its users “credible public health information.”
This seems to work much the same way as the one in the US: it first identifies searches Irish users perform on Twitter using certain relevant keywords. Then, along with the results, the platform shows a link displayed prominently, at the top of the page, leading to HSE’s website that will seek to provide them with the answers to the questions they had asked of Twitter.
You might think Twitter’s main priority as a publicly-traded company would be to make money for its shareholders – but according to Twitter’s director of public policy in Europe, Karen White, you’d be wrong.
“Twitter’s main priority as a company is to protect the health of the public conversation on the platform – ensuring individuals can find information from authoritative sources like the HSE is a key part of that mission,” she said.
HSE official Lucy Jessop, meanwhile, said the service’s goal was “to get the most accurate vaccine information out to the public to ensure people can make informed decisions around their health.”
When the tool was launched in the US and some other jurisdictions around the world last May – on mobile apps, and on the new, redesigned desktop website – reports noted that Twitter would in the future expand this “search nudge” policy to other, at the time unspecified, health-related keywords.