Surgeon general issues warning on health misinformation, plan to combat it

The urgent threat of health misinformation was the subject of the first advisory issued by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD. 

The advisory, issued July 15, highlights how health misinformation has deterred many Americans from exercising COVID-19 protocols and getting vaccinated, prolonging the pandemic and putting lives at risk. 

It also called upon technology and social media companies to "take more responsibility" to combat the proliferation of online health misinformation.

"From the tech and social media companies who must do more to address the spread on their platforms, to all of us identifying and avoiding sharing misinformation, tackling this challenge will require an all-of-society approach, but it is critical for the long-term health of our nation," Dr. Murthy said in a news release.

The advisory outlined five action items to combat the spread of health misinformation:

  1. Equipping Americans with tools to identify misinformation

  2. Deepening the nation's understanding of health misinformation through research

  3. Implementing product design and policy changes on technology platforms

  4. Investing in longer-term efforts to build resilience against health misinformation

  5. Convening federal, state, local, territorial, tribal, private, nonprofit and research partners

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