Just like health officials are having a tough time because of the outbreak of diseases, internet companies too are finding it difficult to curb down vaccine-related misinformation, which ironically was spread in the beginning due to them. As of now, their attempts to separate are not anywhere close.
If a person where to search on any social media site, like that of Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram, they will turn up all types of false warnings about vaccinations. One can easily be influenced by bu these reports because they seem to debunk all options soundly. Some reports actually note that vaccinations may cause autism or that the mercury preservatives present in them can be poisonous.
According to some experts, the online spread of misinformation about vaccination is the reason why there are so many parents who fear and suspect vaccination, which has in turn also contributed to the comeback of very dangerous diseases in recent years, including measles, whooping cough, and mumps.
Richard Carpiano, a professor of public policy and sociology at the University of California said, “The online world has been one that has been very much taken over by misinformation spread by concerned parents,” He added, “Medical doctors don’t command the sort of authority they did decades ago. There is a lack of confidence in institutions people had faith in.”
The current strategy to screen out bogus vaccine information online aims at removing all kinds of fake news from social media, which also includes political propaganda. (Researchers have even found Russia-linked bots trying to sow discord by amplifying both sides of the vaccine debate.)
Pinterest, a social media network that can be described as a digital scrapbook has been leading online repository of vaccine misinformation, took the seemingly drastic step in 2017 of blocking all searches for the term “vaccines.” But despite the efforts to wipe out misformation, it hasn’t been a completely reliable process. Recently, a for “measles vaccine” still brought up, among other things, a post titled “Why We Said NO to the Measles Vaccine,” along with a sinister-looking illustration of a hand holding an enormous needle titled “Vaccine-nation: poisoning the population one shot at a time.”
Facebook, in March, had said it would be recommending groups and pages that promote hoaxes about vaccines and also would reject ads with similar content. This has helped in great regard to filtering out blatant sources of vaccine misinformation, such as the website Naturalnews.com.
On the flipside, Facebook-owned Instagram will show hashtags such as “vaccines kill” and accounts against vaccinating children are easily found with a simple search for “vaccines.”
But despite all the leaks, there are in the process and the high-profile outbreaks, overall vaccination rates remain high in the US according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the percentage of children under 2 who haven’t received any vaccines is growing.
“It is a misinformation campaign,” Carpiano said. “Often couched in ‘Oh, we are for choice, understanding, education,’ ” he said. “But fundamentally it is not open to scientific debate.”