Vaccine misinformation and social media: People exposed to vaccine content on social media more likely misinformed than those exposed to it on traditional media

Individuals who depend on social media for info have been extra prone to be misinformed about vaccines than those that depend on conventional media, based on a research of vaccine data and media use by researchers on the Annenberg Public Coverage Middle of the College of Pennsylvania.

The research, primarily based on nationally consultant surveys of almost 2,500 U.S. adults, discovered that as much as 20% of respondents have been at the very least considerably misinformed about vaccines. Such a excessive degree of misinformation is “worrying” as a result of misinformation undermines vaccination charges, and excessive vaccination charges are required to keep up group immunity, the researchers stated.

The research, printed within the Harvard Kennedy College Misinformation Evaluation, was performed within the spring and fall of 2019, when the USA skilled its largest measles outbreak in 1 / 4 century. Between the 2 survey intervals, 19% of the respondents’ ranges of vaccine misinformation modified in a substantive means — and inside that group, nearly two-thirds (64%) have been extra misinformed within the fall than within the spring.

Media consumption patterns helped to elucidate the change in misinformation ranges, the researchers discovered. These respondents who reported elevated publicity to details about measles and the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine on social media have been extra prone to develop extra misinformed about vaccines. In contrast, these individuals who reported an elevated publicity to information accounts about these subjects in conventional media have been extra prone to develop much less misinformed about vaccines.

“Individuals who obtained their info from conventional media have been much less prone to endorse anti-common vaccination claims,” stated lead creator Dominik Stecula, a postdoctoral fellow within the science of science communication program on the Annenberg Public Coverage Middle (APPC). He co-authored the research with Ozan Kuru, one other APPC postdoctoral fellow, and APPC Director Kathleen Corridor Jamieson.

The result’s per analysis suggesting that social media comprise a good quantity of misinformation about vaccination whereas conventional media usually tend to replicate the scientific consensus on its advantages and security, based on the Annenberg researchers.

‘Worrying’ ranges of vaccine misinformation

The researchers discovered that:

  • 18% of respondents mistakenly say that it is rather or considerably correct to state that vaccines trigger autism;
  • 15% mistakenly agree that it is rather or considerably correct to state that vaccines are full of poisons;
  • 20% wrongly report that it is rather or considerably correct to state that it makes no distinction whether or not mother and father select to delay or unfold out vaccines as an alternative of counting on the official vaccine schedule from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC);
  • and 19% incorrectly say it is rather or considerably correct to state that it’s higher to develop immunity by getting the illness than by vaccination.

Medical specialists and media consumption

The researchers additionally discovered that a person’s degree of belief in medical specialists impacts the chance that an individual’s beliefs about vaccination will change. Low ranges of belief in medical specialists coincide with believing vaccine misinformation, the researchers stated.

As well as, the analysis discovered that vaccine misinformation proved resilient over time. Most of these within the pattern (81%) have been simply as knowledgeable or misinformed within the spring (February/March) as they have been months later, within the fall (September/October), regardless of the in depth information protection of the measles outbreak and makes an attempt by the CDC to teach the general public. Among the many 19% whose degree of information modified considerably, 64% have been extra misinformed and 36% have been higher knowledgeable.

The researchers level out that though the findings solely present correlations between media protection and particular person attitudes — not causation — these findings nonetheless maintain implications for the effectiveness of nationwide pro-vaccination campaigns, the position of well being professionals in addressing misinformation, and the influence of social media misinformation.

The findings, Kuru famous, come as quite a few states have been debating whether or not to tighten their legal guidelines surrounding vaccination exemptions and social media firms have been wrestling with how to answer totally different types of misinformation.

The researchers stated this research means that “growing the sheer quantity of pro-vaccination content material in media of all kinds could also be of worth over the long term.” They stated the findings additionally underscore the significance of selections by Fb, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest to scale back or block entry to anti-vaccine misinformation.


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