Amazon Pressed To Curb Misinformation And Anti-Vaxx Media In Its Online Store

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The spread of misinformation regarding vaccine – including the debunked study linking MMR vaccines to autism – has caused a global outbreak of the once eliminated public health threat in the world.

That is why Democrat Congressman Adam Schiff has sent a letter to Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos questioning why its online platform has become an enabler of misinformation regarding vaccination and asking them to help curb the spread of anti-vaccination content. The congressman has also sent similar letters to Google’s Sundar Pichai and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

The letter questions why Amazon is serving anti-vaccination content in its online store and accepting paid advertisements for anti-vaxx media.

“Every online platform, including Amazon, must act responsibly and ensure that they do not contribute to this growing public-health catastrophe,” Schiff wrote.

The letter referenced the recent CNN report revealing that the top searches in Amazon for the keyword ‘vaccine’ will turn up a selection of anti-vaxx videos, movies, and books. Right at the top of the “vaccine” search results is an ad for the free Kindle e-book Vaccines on Trial that fear-mongers about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

Although there are media that comes out supporting vaccination, the majority of the search results turn up to be promoting misinformation. Scrolling down the search result will reveal a mix of antivax campaigns and subtle books that encourage doubt in vaccination.

The film Vaxxed turned up to be the top entry in the keyword on Thursday afternoon. This documentary film was written and directed by Andrew Wakefield, who had his medical license revoked after faking a study that links vaccination to autism – and was later debunked. According to reports, it appears that the film is no longer the top search result in the platform on Friday morning.

Similar results also crop up when you search “vaccination,” The Verge discovered — and these search results don’t include an ad for a vaccine textbook at the top. Presented with these titles, it can be difficult to separate fact from fear-mongering, particularly when the fact is buried so far down the page. “Most parents are genuinely trying to do the right thing for their kids, and many are misinformed, frightened, or (more often) both,” wrote science journalist Tara Haelle in an email to The Verge.

Experts said that the problem is not that these media are not objectionable; but that they are dangerous to public health.

The Verge wrote: “People who are too young or too sick to be vaccinated rely on everyone around them being vaccinated to prevent the spread of potentially deadly disease. Parental fears around vaccines that are stoked by misinformation can erode that protection.”

“Amazon has to take some responsibility of selling products that are dangerous to child health, which is what they’re doing,” says Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and author of Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism.

Peter Hotez also suggested that Amazon should hire scientists to fact-check and evaluate the media that they are selling in their platform.

Stop being the enabler,” he says. People can still find anti-vax content online. They can still rent or buy the film Vaxxed, for instance, on the Vaxxed website, he says. “They don’t need to use Amazon for it.”

The growing fear of people regarding vaccination has caused a global outbreak of measles. The World Health Organization has since considered the completely avoidable disease through vaccination a global public health threat.

Measles has once again become a global public health threat with multiple countries announcing an outbreak in the first week of February. Madagascar, the Philippines, and some states in the US have published early Tuesday that their territories have been suffering from a measles outbreak.

Measles, which was declared an eliminated significant public health threat in the United States for two decades, has re-emerged in the Pacific Northwest and other states where vaccination campaigns are not reliable and parents have broad leeway over whether to vaccinate their children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received seventy-nine confirmed cases of measles since the start of the year. Fifty of these cases are saturated in the Washington State. Another outbreak of measles has also occurred in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, where 64 confirmed measles cases were reported since late last year.

The outbreak, according to C.D.C., began when an unvaccinated child caught the virus on a visit to Israel, where a massive outbreak of the disease has been occurring.

The worst cases of the outbreak have happened in Clark County, Washington, a fast-growing metropolitan near Portland, Oregon. County health officials declared a medical emergency last month as 49 new cases of measles have been reported from children under ten-years-old.

In Madagascar, more than 20,000 people were reported to be infected by the measles outbreak. This is considered the worst measles outbreak in the island nation for decades. The secretary-general of the ministry of health in Madagascar has told news agencies that more than 50,000 children have caught the disease since October 2018 and they have recorded over 300 measles-related deaths – mostly children.

The outbreak, which was a manageable and preventable disease through vaccination, has hit every region of Madagascar and all major towns and cities.

Meanwhile, the capital region of the Philippines, NCR, has also declared a measles outbreak, Wednesday, after health department reported that the cases in the area have grown by 550%. /apr

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