Mainstream media is trying to figure out why the antivaccine movement is so big, active, and intelligent. Yesterday, ABC’s Australian affiliate ran a story that discussed the concept of “filter bubbles.” The idea being that people only inundate themselves with information they agree with. Naomi Smith, a digital sociologist at Federation University, focused mostly on the topic of antivaccination with a little 2016 Presidential race peppered in. She was especially focused on Dr. Tenpenny’s Vaccine Info Facebook page, the leading social media news site for everything involving questioning the safety of vaccines.
“Anti-vaxxers are eloquent, they’re passionate, they’re persuasive, they use emotionally-loaded rhetoric,” she said about those who subscribe to the antivaccine movement.
One particular Facebook page, VaccineInfo, run by anti-vaccination spokesperson Sherri Tenpenny, had the most industrious users among the pages studied.
About one third of VaccineInfo users were active on other pages examined in the study, making it “singularly important” to the antivaccination movement on Facebook.
This tells us that those who follow Vaccine Info are a well-rounded breed, intellectually speaking. But one thing left out in the article’s assertions that the antivaccine movement is part of some larger “filter bubble,” is that the term “antivaccine” is truly used in the most divisive and inaccurate of ways. Dr. Tenpenny’s page has people who follow her based solely on questioning flu shots or MMR shots, but maybe not other shots. Many of her followers may staunchly resist all vaccines, but that’s not a representation of every person who follows the page. The media tends to make sweeping statements as a way to interconnect anyone who questions any aspect of vaccines. This is a way to intimidate people and cut down on any showings of dissent.
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