New research suggests that anti-vaccine content on Facebook has evolved beyond the bogus, repeatedly disproven autism link and now comes in four distinct flavors, each bitter in its own special way.
The Verge covered the study, from a group of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and recently published in the journal Vaccine:
Today’s study reports that misinformation about vaccines on Facebook appears to have multiplied beyond fears of autism to include four main themes: mistrust of science and government agencies; fear of safety risks; belief in conspiracy theories, and support of alternative disease treatments. The researchers also found that the same stories and videos from anti-vaccination groups tend to recirculate among people who oppose vaccines.
That tracks, Peter Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine Baylor College of Medicine, told the Verge: “It began focusing on autism, but now it’s moving into other areas,” adding, “It tends to confirm the depth and breadth of how Facebook is promoting the anti-vaccine movement.” (You can read more about their methodology at the Verge.) The results suggests potential approaches to the problem, whether that’s tailoring the messages to different groups of doubters or disseminating better info across particular networks. Guess we can’t just unplug the internet completely.