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.
Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong.
A month after Facebook said it would expand efforts to scrub its platforms of vaccine misinformation, false narratives about the Covid-19 vaccine are still flourishing in public and private Facebook communities.
OneZero found dozens of anti-vax groups, public and private, some of which have tens of thousands of users. The sheer abundance of anti-vax material in Facebook groups suggests that the company’s current tools and strategies aren’t enough to tackle even surface-level vaccine misinformation.
Facebook’s renewed pledge to eradicate vaccine hoaxes and misinformation was informed by a January ruling from the company’s oversight board, an internally funded third-party review body. In January, the board critiqued the application of Facebook’s vaccine policies as “inappropriately vague,” and pressed the company to create new community standards on health misinformation. According to the New York Times, Facebook responded by declaring it would focus on the spread of harmful vaccine content across groups and pages, which have long posed a pernicious moderation challenge for the platform.
Despite this vow, dangerous conspiracy theories continue to bubble up in vaccine-related Facebook communities.
In a private group of 27,000 members called “MTHFR Connections: Tongue Ties, Autism, V@xynes, Leaky Gut,” (which used “Vaccines” rather than “V@xynes” in its title until last month) users have shared thoroughly debunked misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, such as the false claim that they alter human DNA.