The Australian medical regulator wrote to YouTube and Facebook about the United Australia Party ads, saying the videos paint a “seriously misleading” picture of vaccine safety and urging platforms to remove them.
Therapeutic Goods Administration boss Professor John Skerritt wrote to the companies on Tuesday, sharing the regulator’s concerns about the content of videos shared on the two platforms.
“As you may be aware, the TGA has expressed concern about material promoted on social media, including YouTube by the United Australia Party which we believe gives a seriously misleading picture of the safety of COVID- vaccines. 19 and could discourage individuals and their families from getting vaccinated, ”Professor Skerritt wrote to YouTube. His letter to Facebook was almost identical.
“Snippets of information were selectively pulled from the Adverse Event Notification database (which is hosted on the TGA website) and have been presented in such a way on social media that many might conclude that vaccines have been responsible for several hundred deaths in Australia. “
The United Australia Party waged a massive anti-containment and anti-vaccination campaign, represented in the Federal Parliament by former Liberal MP Craig Kelly, also used text messages, letterboxes and advertisements in print newspapers (including in The Sydney Morning Herald and Age).
At the end of August, the Australian Media and Communications Authority said it had received more than 300 complaints about the messages. But because the communications originate from a political party, they do not fall under the Spam Act of 2003, nor do they constitute advertising under the Therapeutic Goods Act of 1989.
The TGA filed a lawsuit claiming the campaign violated copyright law, but Mr Kelly fought back saying he would take his own legal action against the regulator.
Professor Skerritt has said he will not comment on the issue during Senate estimates today due to the lawsuit, but has agreed to file the letters sent to Facebook and YouTube.
In correspondence, Professor Skerritt highlighted the good relationship between the regulator and the platforms to remove unrelated advertising that was in apparent violation of the TGA code during the pandemic.
“While for the reasons outlined above UAP’s communications do not fall under the advertising category, I would ask you to consider removing these communications as they undermine the Australian vaccination campaign and are not in the public interest, ”he said.