TikTok allows anti-vaxxers to spread deadly myths that jabs cause autism and cancer and are made from aborted babies – The Sun
TIKTOK is helping spread deadly anti-vaccination myths claiming the jabs cause autism, cancer and sudden infant death.
The video-sharing app has become one of the world's biggest social media sites but has come under fire for becoming a 'cesspit' of child grooming and extremist material.
The Sun Online found scores of posts listing conspiracy theories including that vaccinations can cause death and a host of serious illnesses.
Other videos claim vaccines contain aborted foetuses, murdered dogs and monkey kidneys.
This is despite TikTok claiming just last month it will ban "misinformation that could cause harm to an individual’s health or wider public safety".
The clips have received tens of thousands of views and are feared to be part of a social media misinformation campaign behind falling immunisation rates and a rise in measles.
Health Minister Matt Hancock and leading experts told The Sun Online that TikTok and other social media companies have a lot to answer for as lives are put at risk.
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Dr David Turner, a GP in Hertfordshire, is among doctors who have voiced fears apps such as TikTok are helping fuel a new anti-vax movement.
He said: "It had gone away but it’s come back again with people using things [social media] where damaging messages are being spread.
"A lot of people ask for separate vaccines rather than the combined MMR, which is not something we do on the NHS.
"They might then decide to go via a private clinic, which can lead to a delay and put children at risk during the interim period."
Scores of videos set to background music list a series of myths about the ingredients and serious side effects of immunisations.
Among the bogus side effects presented on the videos are diabetes, arthritis, seizures and asthma.
Posters also claim the vaccinations are made from materials including 'cocker spaniel kidney', 'baby cow's blood' and 'murdered animals'.
What is an anti-vaxxer?
AN anti-vaxxer is someone who either refuses to be vaccinated or allow their children to be vaccinated.
Since the pioneering work of Edward Jenner in the late 18th century on developing vaccines for smallpox, people have protested against the treatment for a variety of reasons.
Public debate around vaccine hesitancy has previously included issues relating to the safety of the treatment.
And ethical objections have been made on civil liberties grounds against mandatory vaccination programmes.
But anti-vaccination as an ideology is seen as contradicting the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus and has historically led to deaths from outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
NHS guidance states there is no risk of a healthy person without a pre-existing condition catching a disease from a vaccination.
It also states vaccinations are made up of bacteria and cells used to grow it are unlikely to be present in the final vaccine.
There are fears a rise in measles cases in Britain is down to anti-vaccine messages spread on social media scaring parents into skipping jabs for their kids.
In 2018, 966 measles cases were confirmed in the UK, nearly four times more than in 2017.
The number of children receiving the MMR jab fell to 87 per cent, the lowest level in nearly a decade.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants new laws to force social media firms to remove content promoting false information about vaccines.
Facebook, which owns, Instagram, previously said it is "working to tackle vaccine misinformation".
A TikTok spokesperson said: “Promoting a positive and safe app environment for our users is a top priority for TikTok. We use both technologies and human moderation teams to identify, review and remove dangerous or abusive content.
"We have investigated every individual case that has been raised and removed all content that violates our Community Guidelines.
Deadly myths shared on TikTok
Vaccinations cause autism
Controversial doctor Andrew Wakefield sparked national panic with a discredited 1998 paper in which he claimed a link between the childhood Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.
He was later struck off and Wakefield was declared fraudulent by the British Medical Journal in 2011.
Numerous studies have since established there is no link but conspiracy theories of a cover-up are popular among anti-vaxxers.
Vaccinations cause cancer
Vaccines can be used to prevent or potentially treat cancer.
There is no scientific link between vaccines and an increased risk of cancer but anti-vaxxers have been especially critical of the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer.
Scare stories on social media claim the vaccine has triggered the development cancer and severe reactions in thousands of girls and hundreds of deaths.
A review by the European Medicines Agency confirmed the fears as baseless.
Vaccinations are made from aborted phoetuses
In the US, some vaccinations – such as those for hepatitis and rabies – contain a minute amount of 'WI-38 cell line' which originates from human phoetuses.
But to claim the vaccines contain a significant amount of the cells is misleading, in reality it's no more than around a billionth of a gram.
You would mind a similar level of human DNA present in a piece of fruit or vegetable.
The small amounts used mean scientists are able to continue to use the same cells obtained with permission in the 1960s.
“TikTok is a platform for users aged 13 and over, per our Terms of Service, and we’ve given it a 12+ App Store rating so parents can simply block it from their child’s phone using device-based controls. If a user declares their age to be below 13, they are prevented from opening an account and their device is blocked.
“We have a number of protective measures in place to reduce the opportunity for misuse and we’re constantly evolving our measures to further strengthen safety on TikTok. For example, we now prompt any new user under 18 to make their account private at set-up and again before they publish for the first time. We enable anybody – whether a TikTok user or not – to use our reporting function to flag any content or account they deem inappropriate.
“While our protections won’t catch every instance of inappropriate content, we continue to rapidly expand our content moderation teams and improve our technologies and policies so that TikTok can remain a place for positive creative expression.”