The pandemic is amplifying the U.S. anti-vaccine movement — and globalizing it

Washington Post
October 07, 2020

The coronavirus crisis is energizing America’s anti-vaccine movement and expanding its reach.

Even as countries and companies race to develop a safe and effective vaccine, U.S. activists and influencers are working to undermine it, seizing on the legitimate fear that the vaccine might be rushed and leveraging that to further a broader anti-vaccine — even anti-science — agenda.

It is a campaign that is primarily playing out on U.S.-owned social networks such as Facebook and YouTube, where misinformation about a potential coronavirus vaccine is flooding hate networks, neighborhood groups and “wellness” communities focused on food or yoga...

Neil Johnson, a professor of physics at George Washington University and the lead author of a recent study on the coronavirus and anti-vaccination views, studies how content moves through digital networks.

In 2019, QAnon was “nowhere on the map,” he said. “Now it’s in a lot of places.” (Facebook on Tuesday imposed sweeping new sanctions on the conspiracy theory across its platforms.)

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