Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Pinterest and Vaccines

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Influenza epidemics happen yearly, and the World Health Organization estimates that the virus is connected to between 290,000 and 650,000 annual deaths. The most effective way to prevent seasonal influenza is vaccination. The prevalence of vaccine misinformation on social media is increasing, but the visual platform Pinterest is understudied in this area. The current study is the first to explore the content and nature of influenza information that is shared on Pinterest. Using a quantitative content analysis, Pinterest messages were theoretically analyzed for Health Belief Model variables as well as for message source, engagement, and position on vaccination. Findings showed concerning trends but also promising opportunities for health organizations and professionals.
From the article:
 While many recent vaccine-focused social media studies have produced an alarming picture of a clear majority of anti-vaccine posts on several platforms [13], [15], this study suggests posts that surface when searching for the vlu vaccine on Pinterest were more balanced between provides a more balanced picture posts supporting and posts critiquing the flu vaccine, at least before Pinterest’s policy changes from 2019. Similarly, perceived benefits of the flu vaccines and perceived barriers to the vaccine were each present in approximately-one quarter of the total sample. Finally, posts originating with Pinterest influencers – which may be more likely to be spread on the platform – were more likely to be pro-flu vaccine.
However, the news is not entirely good. In general, pins associated with higher engagement appeared to be primarily associated with anti-vaccine variables and constructs: for example, pins that refer to deadly consequences of the flu vaccine, other adverse reactions to the flu vaccine, mistrust of flu vaccine safety, alternative ways of protecting oneself from the flu, and several types of fear provoking visuals (e.g., a syringe needle, threat signs such as a skull and crossbones, or a scared facial expression) all elicit significantly higher engagement than pins that do not refer to these concepts.