Citing misinformation, North Dakota health agency eliminates comment option on social media sites

October 26, 2021

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Department of Health on Tuesday switched off comments on its social media accounts in an effort to stop the spread of misinformation, mostly about the coronavirus.

Spokeswoman Marie Moe said rhetoric on the agency’s accounts had grown so heated that people were “discrediting information about everything we posted.”

“There was lots of arguing back and forth,” she said. “We had people share stories of their loss of a loved one due to COVID, and then others demanding to see the death certificate.”

North Dakota is at least the second state to take such a step, following Mississippi, which did it in July. Moe said her agency consulted with Mississippi before turning off comments.

U.S. health officials have said misinformation on social media platforms has caused some people to resist getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. North Dakota has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S., with just over 60% of the population completing their doses despite the widespread availability of shots.