Coronavirus (742) An Army of Volunteers Is Taking On Vaccine Disinformation Online

16 June, 2020

Extracts below from a news itemon WIRED magazine. Full text here:


Anti-vaccine messages on social media have tripled since the pandemic began. One public health group wants to teach pro-vaccine Americans to fight fire with fire.

In a series of recent polls, only about half of US adults say they would get a Covid-19 vaccine, even though more than 1,000 people are still dying from the disease every day in the US... more than a quarter of Americans would decline a shot in part because they believe Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates is trying to slip them a microchip. Conspiracy theories thrive in times of great uncertainty... This one can be traced back to May 4, when a little-known filmmaker named Mikki Willis posted a 26-minute video called Plandemic to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and a designated website. It featured a discredited scientist describing a bizarre, unsubstantiated plot by global elites like Gates to use a vaccine against the virus to seize power...

To combat this maelstrom of misinformation, Public Good Projects PGP plans to recruit people who think vaccines are a vital public good and who have a track record of activism—doing things like signing petitions or attending demonstrations. Those people will sign up to receive information about how to combat vaccine-related misinformation when they see it...

A common tactic of vaccine opponents is to “swarm” people who speak up for immunization programs, such as public officials, physicians, or scientists. During a swarm, a few power users will send legions of followers to attack that person on different social media platforms, bombarding their profiles with an avalanche of consistent anti-vaccine messaging. If that doesn’t do the trick, intimidation campaigns can be escalated—editing Wikipedia pages into smear screeds, voting doctors’ reviews on Google and other sites down into oblivion, doxxing doctors and scientists, and even issuing death threats. Smyser’s idea is for Stronger followers to “show some love” to individuals who come under attack, flooding their pages and social media feeds with evidence-based vaccine information, writing positive reviews, and reporting abusive users.


Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with almost 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese). Twitter: @hifa_org FB: