Many groups in our community already have lower levels of health literacy – people with lower levels of education, from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people who are unemployed, people with disability, and people with lower socioeconomic status.
Traditionally, people have learnt about healthy choices from their families, schools, doctors, and government advertising campaigns. However, people are increasingly seeking information from websites and social media.
The internet has the potential to significantly magnify health misinformation campaigns, as people can easily absorb misinformation delivered directly to them through advertising, celebrity influencers, and people in positions of power.
We have seen this with the anti-vaccination movement, and the countless conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 pandemic that circulate constantly on the internet.
We need an Australian Government-funded campaign to counter this misinformation and promote healthy choices, including information about vaccine safety and the health risks associated with alcohol, junk food, tobacco, and other drugs.
Social media companies must also acknowledge their responsibility and work actively to counter health misinformation on their platforms.