Amazon Prime members can no longer stream anti-vaccination movies for free, but DVD’s of those movies still remain available — and one is listed as Amazon’s Choice.
On Friday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on concerns that Amazon is recommending products that discourage vaccination on its platform — for example, anti-vaccination movies. Later that day, anti-vaccine documentaries were pulled from Amazon Prime Video, BuzzFeed News reported.
“I am writing out of my concern that Amazon is surfacing and recommending products and content that discourage parents from vaccinating their children, a direct threat to public health, and reversing progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases,” Schiff wrote.
The anti-vaccine movies Man Made Epidemic, Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, Shoot ‘Em Up – The Truth About Vaccines, and The Greater Good are no longer available to Prime members for free streaming. However, DVDs of those films are still available.
The Man Made Epidemic DVD is listed as Amazon’s Choice. Meanwhile, the Vaxxed DVD is the #1 bestseller in the “Special Interests” category. The Greater Good is still available for streaming but requires a third-party channel subscription.
According to the World Health Organization, immunization is proven to eliminate life-threatening infectious diseases and is estimated to prevent 2 and 3 million deaths annually.
However, there is a rising trend of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children. In his letter, Schiff brought up Washington state declaring a public health emergency because of a measles epidemic that broke out in Clark County — a disease that can be easily prevented with vaccines.
Schiff said that one of the causes of this trend is medically inaccurate information about vaccines online.
“As the largest online marketplace in the world, Amazon is in a unique position to shape consumption,” Schiff wrote. “Yet the algorithms which power social media platforms and Amazon’s recommendations are not designed to distinguish quality information from misinformation or misleading information and, as a result, harmful anti-vaccine messages have been able to thrive and spread.”
Schiff also said he was concerned about Amazon accepting and promoting paid advertising that includes misinformation about vaccines. He expressed concerns over parents seeing information on Amazon searches and recommendations and then choosing not to have their children vaccinated. In addition, he said that parents who are looking for accurate information could end up finding videos with misinformation about vaccines.
Amazon still hosts and algorithmically suggests other conspiracy films as documentaries, including ones on the Illuminati, 9/11, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Previously, Schiff had written similar letters on anti-vaccination content to Google and Facebook. Afterwards, YouTube banned channels that promote anti-vaccination content from running ads, BuzzFeed News reported. Facebook told Business Insider it is exploring ways to make educational information about vaccines more accessible while reducing misinformation, but it is still “thinking through what the right approach for this effort might look like.”
Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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