Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Information wars: tackling the threat from disinformation on vaccines

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 13 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2144


Rebuilding trust in immunisation is key to tackling vaccine hesitancy


We have reached the point where we should consider compulsory vaccination

Rapid Response:

Brave New World

Christopher Exley poses some important questions [1]. One thing I would point out here is how slippery are such terms as “disinformation” and “misinformation”, shifting the issue of whether something is true or not (which is complex) to whether it is politically convenient. An algorithm cannot possibly sort out truth but it may be excellent at suppressing ‘the wrong sort of information’ - which is something quite different, and politically retrograde. Readers can perhaps understand the crudity of this process from this recent Wall Street Journal video [2], though the presentation is glossy enough.

As Exley points out such a high-handed strategy is the last way to earn trust - if that was ever the purpose - and could frankly cause all sorts of social and political turmoil (the USA and Italy anyone?).

[1] Christopher Exley, 'Re: Information wars: tackling the threat from disinformation on vaccines', 16 May 2019,

[2] 'What Big Tech Is (And Isn't) Doing to Fight Antivaccine Misinformation', Wall Street Journal, 13 May

Competing interests: No competing interests

17 May 2019
John Stone
UK Editor
London N22