ISLAMABAD  -   Social media websites on Friday started removing propaganda content against anti-polio vaccination on internet.

A statement issued by the Ministry of National Health Services said that Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have begun removing anti-vaccination propaganda content from their relative social media platforms.

The content was spreading misunderstanding and discouraging the masses to vaccinate their children against the polio virus.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in its official correspondence said: “PTA had been proactively identifying and reporting anti-vaccination content hosted on different social media platforms.

A total of 174 links have been blocked so far, of which 130 were from Facebook, 14 from Twitter and 30 from YouTube.

The Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Babar Bin Atta said that “Facebook’s global regulatory and content management team had assured Pakistan of their cooperation in its fight against polio during a video conference. He further added that the propaganda which included removal of certain pages as per their rules and policy. Atta appreciated Facebook’s support in eradicating polio from Pakistan.

A statement issued by the National Emergency Operations Centre said that the polio programme will continue to work closely with Facebook International to identify and recommend action against users who spread hateful propaganda. The Government of Pakistan is taking strict measures to regulate vaccine related harmful content available on social media to address the misconceptions surrounding the polio vaccine.

The press statement elaborated that the parental refusals based on misconceptions propagated through social media, specially Facebook, regarding polio vaccine is emerging as the major obstacle in achieving complete eradication in the country. Pakistan has made great achievements in eradicating polio, however, concerns regarding the vaccine’s safety have caused an alarming increase in refusals.

However, the content on social media platforms related to vaccination also incites harm and violence against polio workers, and may further deteriorate the programme’s coverage of vulnerable children with the vaccine and their subsequent immunity against the polio virus. Therefore, the Government will identify such content while closely working with Facebook and other media platform.

A legal framework is also under consideration to take action against persistent propagandist that are putting the lives of children and health workers at risk said the PM’s Focal Person Babar Bin Atta, who appreciated such timely action by the PTA and the Social Media Platforms involved.