Facebook's decision to ban news, and incidentally some government and health websites, will allow the anti-vaccination movement to thrive at a time when truth and balance is most important says a Finley GP.
Principal general practitioner of Finley Medical Centre Alam Yoosuff, who is also Murrumbidgee Local Health District's Director of Primary Healthcare, said the Facebook news ban would create an information vacuum and allow anti-vaxxers to spread mistrusts about the COVID-19 vaccines unchecked.
The Finley doctor also holds board positions with Murrumbidgee Local Health District and Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network but spoke to The Border Mail in his role as a GP said the multi-billion dollar company was putting profits ahead of public health and duty.
"The anti-vaxxer movement thrives on false information or misinformation and when there's no counteracting balance and no balanced information then that tends to take predominance," he said.
"It should be a criminal offence. It's really bad, no social media giant or news agency or any platform should have done something like this [in a pandemic.]"
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On Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was among the first Australians to receive the Pfizer vaccine ahead of the broader rollout on Monday.
It came as four federal parliamentarians, who are also medical doctors, called for residents to be vaccinated and ignore online mistruths.
Lyne MP David Gillespie said the removal of news from Facebook meant it was even more vital resident avoid turning to social media for information.
"Doctor Facebook is full of fake news, particularly [with what happened in] the last 24 hours - most news will be fake news," he told The Age.
Dr Yoosuff said while the majority of people will seek expert opinion on the vaccine from health sources of their GP, some might be swayed by the torrent of anti-vaxxer posts.
"About five to ten per cent of people are hesitant, they're on the fence," he said.
"[The anti-vaxxers] will try and push them not to have it and because of that misinformation and the FB ban they might not see the right information."
Dr Yoosuff said the mass COVID-19 vaccination program was one of the biggest public health projects ever embarked on in Australia.
"The Australian government and health authorities wanted Facebook to be on the side of truth so real information is disseminated widely in the community," he said.
"At a time when they should have done that, they shut it down overnight, it's very bad."
The speed in which Facebook acted to remove news sites jarred with their inaction regarding misinformation, conspiracy theories and violent videos of terror attacks like the Christchuch massacre.
"The biggest worry is if they really wanted to block something, they could have blocked it in a second or overnight," Dr Yoosuff said.
"When mistruths and misinformation was causing harm to human people they kept quiet and didn't do a thing... but when it could affect their profit they can switch things off overnight. It's hypocrisy."