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March 5, 2019

Amazon becomes latest tech company to pull anti-vaccine content

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    Amazon on Friday reportedly removed anti-vaccine documentaries from its video streaming service, The Hill reports.

    Related: What 'Amazon health care' could look like in 5 years

    Background: Tech giants crack down on vaccine misinformation amid growing measles outbreaks

    CDC data show that, as of Feb. 28, there have been 206 confirmed cases of measles in the United States this year. That total is more than the combined total number of measles cases confirmed in 2016 and 2017, which saw 86 and 120 confirmed cases, respectively.

    According to CDC, measles cases have been confirmed in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington so far in 2019. Of those states, CDC has confirmed measles outbreaks in Illinois, New York, Texas, and Washington. CDC said the outbreaks are linked to individuals who traveled to countries experiencing major measles outbreaks, such as Israel, and as a result brought the virus back to the United States.

    In light of the outbreaks, Schiff last month sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai requesting information on the steps the companies are taking "to provide medically accurate information on vaccinations to [their] users, and to encourage [them] to consider additional steps [they] can take to address" misinformation.

    Facebook and Google have taken actions to reduce access to anti-vaccine content on their websites, and Pinterest last month announced that it has temporarily blocked all vaccine-related content from its website.

    Amazon removes anti-vaccine documentaries from streaming service

    Schiff on Friday sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos requesting information on steps the company already is taking to address "medically inaccurate information about vaccines" that can "discourage parents from vaccinating their children." Schiff also asked the company to take additional actions to limit such information on its site.

    Amazon on Friday removed three anti-vaccine documentaries—"We Don't Vaccinate!", "Shoot 'Em Up: The Truth About Vaccines," and "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe"—which had been available to Amazon Prime users on the company's video streaming service.

    Amazon has not completely removed all anti-vaccine content from its website. Specifically, the website continues to allow users to stream at least one anti-vaccine documentary, called "The Greater Good," using a third-party channel subscription. Amazon also still allows users to purchase anti-vaccine books and DVDs from its websites (Gstalter, The Hill, 3/2; Owens, "Vitals," Axios, 3/4; O'Donovan, BuzzFeed, 3/1; Schiff letter, 3/1).

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