Doctor says social media firms must do more to stop spread of Covid-19 vaccine untruths

A doctor who campaigns against vaccine misinformation says big social media firms must do more to stop the spread of untruths.Dr. Bnar Talabani, who’s based in Cardiff, uses the social media platform Tik Tok to answer people’s questions about what’s true and what’s not true when it comes to Covid vaccination.She’s the subject of tonight’s Face to Face in which she discusses her life and career as well as her online work.In the programme, she says that untruths are spread by the way social media works.

“It’s an algorithm that if you like more of the same thing, you get more of that content."“So if you were to join TikTok tomorrow and like puppies videos, then you'd get more puppy videos and that's OK."

"But when you are engaging continuously with anti-vax content or content that's racist or pro-violence against women, you get more of that into your feeds and that is harmful."“And although social media companies are trying to address this, they haven't quite got the balance right between suppressing the misinformation and elevating the solution."“They do need to do more, absolutely, because I think that's the biggest source of the problem.”

A young Dr Talabani with her mother in a refugee camp during the Gulf War.

Dr. Talabani tells presenter Adrian Masters how she knew she wanted to be a doctor from a very young age, when she was a four-year-old child in Iraq where her father was involved in the resistance against Saddam Hussein.

The family fled during the first Gulf War when their house had been looted and ransacked.She also says that her experience and that of her family as refugees still motivates her.“When we arrived in the UK, my mum - I remember the conversation clearly; I was 10 years old -  sat down my siblings and I and very clearly said, ‘You are now safe. We have a good home. You are now going to work hard and make the most of these opportunities.’ And I think that was it. It was always a focus on education and doing something good with it.”

Their welcome in the UK was a warm one, unlike many others more recently, which worries her.“I think it's awful. I think we are in an age where media, politicians, lots of groups of people are vilifying refugees and these are the most vulnerable people in the world and we have a duty to protect the most vulnerable."“The way that I see it is if you give someone who's lost everything a home and safety and opportunity, they will spend the rest of their life paying that back. And it's a real shame that we don't always follow policies that protect the most vulnerable.”You can see the full interview in Face to Face Thursday, 1045pm ITV Cymru Wales and watch previous episodes here.