SNAPCHAT, TikTok, Reddit and YouTube are teaming up with the Government and the NHS, to encourage young people to get vaccinated.
The collaboration, which is part of a drive to combat misinformation around Covid-19 vaccines, comes after the rollout was opened up to all adults in England on Friday.
Dr Karan Rangarajan, who has 3.9 million followers on TikTok, says it was crucial social media platforms are used to target younger people[/caption]
Maisie Ayres, aged 18, receives a Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at an NHS Vaccination Clinic, after the vaccination programme was opened up to all adults on Friday[/caption]
Dr Karan Rangarajan, an NHS surgeon and influencer who uses social media to tackle the spread of misinformation, said: “If you really want to get on top of the misinformation, and get ahead of the game, you need to go the source where it is coming from.
“And most of it is coming from social media.”
Dr Rangarajan, who has 3.9 million followers on TikTok, said it was crucial these platforms were used to target younger people.
Brits in younger age brackets might be “historically or traditionally more averse to getting their vaccine,” he said.
“Misinformation affects all groups equally and there is a large user base that is in their late teens or early 20s,” he said.
“They are also in the UK the last cohort to be eligible for the vaccine so it’s a really important group to target.”
The most “dangerous and potent” combination of misinformation happened when falsehoods mixed some small level of truth, he said.
The doctor said it was “frustrating” when the truth was mixed up and turned into something that was false.
Misinformation had evolved throughout the pandemic, he said beginning with what caused the virus, and false theories about 5G.
The theories then spread take the form of misinformation about the use of masks and how they could prevent the spread of Covid-19.
As part of the NHS’s new drive, TikTok users will have vaccine stickers available to them. The site was also working with Team Halo, a group of scientists using the platform to share information about the jab.
Snapchat users could use NHS stickers, a filter and later an augmented reality lens that said “I’ve had my vaccine”, and the app would be hosting a series of Q&As, featuring medical experts speaking on the Prime Minister’s Snapchat account.
Dr Tasnim Jara, 26, is a member of Team Halo, a group tackling Covid-19 misinformation using videos they have made for social media[/caption]
Dr William Budd, a clinical research physician at Imperial College London, is also a member of Team Halo[/caption]
Snapchat had also expanded its “Here for You” feature, which provided in-app resources for user seeking information around mental health and wellbeing.
While Facebook and Instagram were not among the platforms involved in the campaign, Dr Rangarajan hoped more would “step up and get behind the campaign”.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “delighted” that the social media platforms were being used to support the “most successful vaccine effort in NHS history”.
Of the new campaign, Ed Couchman, from Snapchat, said: “We’re thrilled to collaborate with the government to make sure they have accurate and trusted resources to stay safe, healthy and informed.”
Ben McOwen Wilson, from YouTube, said: “It has been fantastic to witness the public response to our national initiative and to have seen the rates at which young people have stepped up.
“We will continue to work to combat the pandemic by using YouTube’s extensive reach among young people to help in this critical national effort.”
The collaboration comes after the Government last year agreed new measures with social media sites to limit the spread of false information.
In November, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden and Health Secretary Matt Hancock agreed with social media platforms new measures to limit the spread of vaccine misinformation and disinformation.
These new measures would also help people find the information they needed about any Covid-19 vaccine.
As a result, Twitter and Google committed to the principle that no company should profit from or promote Covid-19 anti-vaccine disinformation.
They pledged to respond to flagged content more swiftly, and to work with authorities to promote scientifically accurate messages.