Surgeon General’s Advisory Warns About the Urgent Threat of Health Misinformation

Angie Szumlinski Announcements, Health

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is issuing the first Surgeon General’s Advisory of this Administration to warn the American public about the urgent threat of health misinformation. Health misinformation, including disinformation, have threatened the U.S. response to COVID-19 and continue to prevent Americans from getting vaccinated, prolonging the pandemic and putting lives at risk, and the advisory encourages technology and social media companies to take more responsibility to stop online spread of health misinformation.

Health misinformation has already caused significant harm, dividing families and communities and undermining vaccination efforts. An analysis of millions of social media posts found that false news stories were 70 percent more likely to be shared than true stories. And a recent study  showed that even brief exposure to misinformation made people less likely to want a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Health misinformation is an urgent threat to public health. It can cause confusion, sow mistrust, and undermine public health efforts, including our ongoing work to end the COVID-19 pandemic. As Surgeon General, my job is to help people stay safe and healthy, and without limiting the spread of health misinformation, American lives are at risk. 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.”

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy