Credit: TheVerge

Popular pro-vaccine Reddit page calls on founders to do more to combat COVID-19 disinformation

Credit: TheVerge

On Wednesday, r/vaxxhappened, a popular pro-vaccine reddit page, uploaded a message urging the site’s founders to do more to counteract COVID-19 misinformation spreading on the platform.

The page has over 330,000 followers, according to the moderators, who “collect the outrageous and dangerous tales told by dimwitted anti-vaxxers on all forms of media.”

We could have been better off months ago, but disinformation and lies have been allowed to spread readily through inaction and malice, and have dragged this on at the cost of lives,” the page’s moderators wrote. “There are those who deny that the pandemic even exists, there are those who think that wearing a mask will literally suffocate you, there are those who think it’s no worse than a regular flu virus, that it’s a bioweapon, and everything in between. This volume of blatant misinformation is problematic and dangerous.”

“It is clear that even after promising to tackle the problem of misinformation on this site, nothing of substance has been done aside from quarantining a medium-sized subreddit, which barely reduces traffic and does little to stop misinformation,” they added.

On the site, the founders have addressed COVID-19 falsehoods, and there is a volunteer-led effort to combat misinformation.

“Reddit is a place for open and authentic discussion and debate. This includes conversations that question or disagree with popular consensus. We provide users with authoritative resources when viewing communities that may warrant additional scrutiny, and continue to action content and users that violate our policies,” a Reddit spokesperson told Insider.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have also provided COVID-related resources to support our volunteer moderators, users, and communities, including a dedicated AMA series connecting users with authoritative experts on coronavirus and vaccines, as well as deploying homepage banners directing users to the CDC and r/Coronavirus,” they added.

On their platforms, firms like Twitter and Facebook have struggled to prevent COVID-19 misinformation. The New York Times reported last month that Facebook data scientists wanted resources to determine how widespread COVID-19 misinformation was, but that their requests were refused by higher-ups.