Facebook Pages, the “Disneyland” Measles Outbreak, and Promotion of Vaccine Refusal as a Civil Right, 2009–2019

October 1, 2020

American Public Health Association

Facebook connects billions of people globally, enabling individuals to share information on pages organized around common interests. Facebook can therefore be used to spread health-related information and misinformation quickly and widely, affecting public discourse and potentially driving real-world behaviors. These community dynamics could also allow malicious actors to mobilize vulnerable communities for their own purposes. For example, Facebook has been linked to recent outbreaks of violence around the world.

The dynamics of health misinformation on Facebook pose a threat to vaccination programs. Social media exposure is theorized to amplify vaccine skepticism, exposing billions of users to misinformation about vaccines, increasing hesitancy and delay, eroding trust in health care providers and public health experts, and reducing vaccination rates, with repeated exposures potentially exacerbating this hesitancy.

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