We are now approaching the end game in the battle to beat Polio globally. While many obstacles remain to be overcome, WhatsApp now, is social media and fake news threatening all the hard work. It is bad enough Polio going viral without fake videos leading to 70,000 refusing to take the Polio vaccine as a consequence.
The death of three children from measles in Pakistan was filmed by a man who blamed the deaths on Polio vaccine and then added to the lie by inflating the number dead to 16. Uploaded to social media, this false film spread in hours before the truth could pull its shoes on. Lynching’s have also taken place in India due to false rumours online and WhatsApp, Facebook and others need to take some responsibility and act.
The British Polio Fellowship uses social media to connect with members and it is a lifeline for those living with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) who struggle to get out. An online community can be a force for good, but apps are too often a medium for abuse and misinformation. Not everything on social media is true and while abuse is one thing, misinformation on the Polio front line is literally a matter of life and death. These apps must police their platforms and do more to address perpetrators of evil.
The British Polio Fellowship continues to support those who had Polio and those who now live with PPS. If you need our support, call us now on 0800 043 1935 or visit www.britishpolio.org.uk
National Chairman, The British Polio Fellowship