Anti-vaccine lies and misinformation amplified on social networks

Anna Lee Mraz and Manuel Ortiz. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].

An avalanche of lies and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine is spreading across major socio-digital platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Google, without these coorporations doing enough to stop it, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) reported in a recent report.

The report entitled "Anti-Vaxx Playbook", published by the CCDH, notes that "even when users report disinformation to platforms, less than 1 in 20 disinformation posts were removed. Why is that? In part, because the audience for anti-vaccine misinformation is worth up to a billion dollars a year?.

The organization, based in London and Washington, explained that the strategy of those who profit from lies and misinformation about vaccines is "simple" and is based on "taking advantage of the prediction of social media algorithms for controversial and attractive content to convey three messages that lie: that COVID-19 is [supposedly] not dangerous, that vaccines [according to the fanatics] are harmful and that doctors, scientists and health authorities are distrusted. Despite the variety of styles, tones, and themes employed by the anti-vaccine movement, every meme they share serves one of these three messages?

For his part, Dr. Peter J. Hotez (Twitter: @PeterHotez), a renowned scientist and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine argues in a research article ruled and published in Plos Biology (January 28, 2021), that as of 2019, ?a confederacy of anti-vaccine groups occupies more than 500 websites, amplifying on social media and e-commerce and dominating the Internet?

According to Hotez, who is also a professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine:

Feeding medical freedom ideologies was an active and blatant anti-science disinformation initiative by the White House [during Donald J. Trump's administration]that resembled similar approaches by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Baylor College of Medicine

These government-led anti-science campaignsknown since then as "medical populism"They combined multiple strategies," says Hotez, "they combined multiple strategies: concealing the severity of the pandemic of COVID-19, dismiss the seriousness of COVID-19, exaggerate miracle cures, and inflate or spectacularize the abilities of Presidents Trump, Bolsonaro, or Duterte to combat the disease?

In this regard, the CCDH document points out the importance of ?vaccinate against misinformation ignoring the publications generated by the anti-vaccine industry and instead focus on communicating our core message, one that has the advantage of being true:

  1. Covid is deadly;
  2. Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective inventions of mankind, saving people from disease, disability and even death;
  3. Doctors, scientists and public health professionals chose these professions because they want to help people and understand the world better?

The next step, Dr. Hotez concludes, "is to develop a series of vaccines against COVID-19 and other biomedical interventions. But ultimately, biomedical solutions will not be enough to stop the spread of COVID-19. We must simultaneously dismantle anti-science?.

References

Hotez PJ (2021) Anti-science kills: From Soviet embrace of pseudoscience to accelerated attacks on US biomedicine. PLoS Biol 19(1): e3001068. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001068, available: https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3001068

The Anti-Vaxx Industry, Center for Countering Digital Hate.
https://www.counterhate.co.uk/anti-vaxx-industry

Failure to Act, Center for Countering Digital Hate.
https://www.counterhate.co.uk/failure-to-act

"The Anti-Vaxx Playbook," Center for Countering Digital Hate, https://www.counterhate.com/anti-vaxx-industry

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