'Slap them down' or hear them out: How to handle misinformation 'superspreaders'?

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May 31, 2020

Almost as disturbing as the heat maps showing official death rates from COVID-19 every night on the news are those starting to circulate showing vast networks of influence of the global anti-vaccination movement, some of them run from Australia.

At a time when trust in science and gratitude for modern medicine should be high, it's been terrifying to watch traction gained recently by vaccination conspiracy theorists, some with (opportunistic) Australian celebrity support.

Five days after 10 Melburnians were arrested during a protest against vaccinations and lockdowns, the prestigious journal Science reported a first-of-its kind analysis of 1300 vaccination-related Facebook pages with nearly 100 million followers.

It found anti-vaccine pages – where "the battle for hearts and minds" on immunisation is fought – are more numerous than pro-vaccine and "undecided" pages, and are growing faster.

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