Vaccination advocates and researchers have been waiting for years for their reaction SOCIAL MEDIA vaccine-related misinformation platforms (for COVID-19 and beyond).
So many were happy to learn that This makes it a perfect choice for people with diabetes and for those who want to lose weight or follow a balanced diet. Facebook removed some of the most popular accounts against vaccination. These accounts / pages also promoted Covid-19 vaccine misinformation.
However, the problem has not been addressed. A new study shows that the biggest threatening for public confidence in Covid-19 vaccines comes from smaller, better connected Facebook groups promoting vaccination messages.
Various vaccines for Covid-19 have been developed in recent months, and health experts warn that their acceptance by the world will be vital to stop the spread of the virus. Experts say there is no exact limit on the percentage of people who need to be vaccinated to stop the virus from spreading, but it is expected to be at least 60% of the population.
However, the public views on vaccines are mixed. According to a YouGov poll conducted in August, Only 42% of Americans said they would like to get the Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available. Another poll in September showed that the percentage of people who would receive the vaccine decreased significantly compared to the percentage who said "yes" in May.
A research paper released in May suggested that People's reluctance to get vaccinated is largely due to the anti-vaccination movement. Although participation in online vaccination groups was lower than participation in vaccination support groups, There were many who conveyed messages more emotionally and often convincingly and disseminated them outside their groups. This means that many more people could see them and be influenced by them.
An investigation of Neil Johnson (physicist at George Washington University) and his research team show that members of communities previously considered unrelated to vaccines, such as groups for pet lovers, groups of parents in schools, groups for yoga followers, etc., were associated with the anti-vaccination movement.
"It's like tumor growthSaid Johnson.
Facebook, the favorite platform of anti-vaccination activists, tried to limit the scope of this content, but the movement was strengthened during the pandemic thanks to misinformation about Covid-19 and one communication strategy that allowed vaccination messages to bypass platform policies and reach out to even more users.
Facebook spokeswoman Andrea Vallone said in a statement e-mail that the company is trying to connect people with accurate information about vaccines and has banned misleading advertising.
"We also continue to remove misinformation about COVID-19 that could lead to immediate bodily harm and refer people to the COVID Information Center, which is available in 189 countries", he said.
A report by the London-based non-profit Center for Countering Digital Hate found that the anti-vaccination movement has gained about 8 million followers since 2019. Another report showed that The conspiracy theories for an upcoming vaccine for Covid-19 have flooded social media and especially the Instagram and Facebook.
Some of these conspiracy theories claim that the vaccine is made to control the population by governments or even Satan. Many well-known communities, such as Libertarian, New Age, QAnon appear to be opposed to an upcoming Covid-19 vaccine.
The biggest pages banned by Facebook were already preparing for repression.
Facebook removed page for online anti-vaccination show, The HighWire, this month, as according to the platform it was violating its policies regarding "misinformation that could cause bodily harm". The the UAF YouTube-channel had already removed the show channel in July, following reports that the host Del Bigtree underestimated the severity of the pandemic on his show and suggested viewers deliberately expose themselves to Covid-19.
According to a post on the Facebook page, the HighWire had posted more than 500 videos with more than 30 million views. The page had 360.500 followers when it was deleted.
However, a HighWire account remains active on Instagram and has 199.000 followers.
Also, after years of creating an audience on Facebook, the Larry Cook and its 200.000-member private team, Stop Mandatory Vaccination, were also removed from Facebook for violating its policies.
Cook warned his fans of an impending ban and promoted his accounts to 11 other alternative platforms.
The researchers observed that Livestreaming capabilities provided a way for vaccine activists to continue to reach out to their audience. According to one expert, Covid-19 brought to light important facts about prominent figures in the community of anti-vaccination activists.
"The Vaccination Movement Recognizes Covid-19 was a Content Opportunity for People to Find Vaccine Content When Searching", he said. "They saw it as an opportunity not only to erode confidence in vaccines for Covid, but also to make people reluctant to use the usual childhood vaccines.".
Attempts by Bigtree and Cook to switch to other platforms have had little success. Many people did not know exactly where to look for them or how to handle these platforms.
Most people remain attached to Facebook and in fact do not need to change platforms to stay connected to the larger vaccination movement. An unknown number of private groups, sites that were hubs for misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines.
"It's like an uprising," Johnson said. "And the difficult thing about fighting an uprising is that we never knew where it was. It was almost like an invisible network behind them. "Often, the teams that were most prominent were the ones that caught the attention because they were the biggest, but that does not necessarily mean that they were the most important in the network."
His new research shows that The vaccination movement has effectively used the pandemic to reach more than 100 million Facebook users and seems to be winning the battle.
Hence the ban accounts with many followers it probably has no real impact on the larger vaccination movement.
Source: NBC News