After receiving a request from Pakistan government’s polio programme, Facebook has blocked 31 pages and accounts in Pakistan for allegedly spreading propaganda against the vaccine on August 28, reported Dawn. The rumour spread on social media on the basis of the death of a one-year-old girl in Swabi province on August 26. Social media posts claimed her cause of death to be due to the polio vaccine.
Thanking the media, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio, Babar Bin Atta said that Print and electronic media has shown responsibility and decided to wait till getting the autopsy report of the deceased.
“Print and electronic media showed responsibility and decided to wait till getting the autopsy report of the deceased,” the Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Babar Bin Atta said.
Speaking on the rumours, Atta said that although media did not cover the incident, an organised campaign was launched on social media that the girl had died because of the vaccine and people should not vaccinate their children. Later, the reports suggested that the girl had died of suffocation as a peanut got stuck in her throat. As a result, Facebook was informed. Later, the social media giant blocked 31 pages and accounts.
“Just after getting the report, we contacted Facebook and officially launched a campaign against those accounts which were involved in propaganda against the vaccine....We are thankful to Facebook for cooperating with us,” Atta said.
Moreover, Atta has also taken the polio team members into confidence and asked them to share pro-polio vaccine posts with those who hesitate to vaccinate their children due to the campaign.
Polio cases have been surging in Pakistan this year. Compared to 12 in 2018 and eight in 2017, about 58 cases of polio have been recorded in Pakistan this year. A major chunk of 44 out of the total 58 cases lie in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The country remains one of the few countries in the world where polio has not yet been eradicated.
(With inputs from ANI)