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Facebook Blocks Accounts Involved In Anti-Polio Campaign

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Facebook has come down hard on an anti-polio campaign launched in Pakistan. In this regard, the social media giant has blocked around 31 accounts/pages engaged in propaganda against the vaccination programme.

The request to block the pages was made by the government of Pakistan. In a report in Dawn, rumours were going around in Swabi that a one-year-old girl had lost her life because of the polio vaccine.

The Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Babar Bin Atta informed media that in response to the incident, an organised campaign had been started on social media that claimed the girl had died due to the polio vaccine. He added that the campaign urged people to not vaccinate their children.

However, the autopsy report proved otherwise; the girl had died from suffocating on a peanut stuck in her throat.

Babar Bin Atta informed media that upon receiving the autopsy report, they had contacted Facebook to act against those accounts involved in the propaganda.

Facebook responded positively and within an hour had blocked all the accounts and pages involved in the anti-polio campaign.

In his talk to the media, the prime minister’s focal person expressed his thanks to Facebook for their cooperation.

In 2019, a total of 58 polio cases have been reported in the country, a number which had fallen to 12 last year. Currently, Pakistan is one of the two countries where the disease has not been completely eradicated, the other being Afghanistan.

Opposition to polio campaigns has been due to various reasons. At times, it is based in rumours resulting from incidents like the one mentioned above. At other times, it is motivated by propaganda by clerics who claim the vaccine to contain substances forbidden in Islam.

The opposition is often deadly, as a result of which polio workers are frequently seen administering drops to children with armed escorts.

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Naya Daur