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Labour calls on social media firms to stamp out anti-vax content

The Labour Party has called for the introduction of emergency laws to "stamp out dangerous" anti-vaccine content.

The political party has recommended creating a new system whereby social media firms in the UK could face financial and criminal penalties if they fail to remove false stories about vaccines.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said such content exploits the "fears" of the population.

The call comes amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, and follows recent news that a vaccine could be approved in the coming months.

The UK government reached an agreement with social media firms earlier this month that will mean that they cannot profit from fake vaccine news.

But according to Labour, the measures need to go even further.

The party said: "The announced collaboration with social media companies last week was welcome but feels grossly inadequate with a promise by them to remove only the content which is flagged by government and which generates profit."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson - who is currently self-isolating after after meeting an MP who later tested positive for Covid-19 - previously described people who oppose vaccinations as "nuts".

And this week, he added: "Anti-vax is total nonsense, you should definitely get a vaccine."

A government spokesperson has also addressed the issue of social media firms and their approach to anti-vax content.

The spokesperson said: "We continue to work closely with social media firms to promote authoritative sources of information so people have access to vaccine facts not fiction."

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