Vaccine hoaxes are rampant on social media. Here’s how to spot them.

Washington Post
December 18, 2020

Front-line health workers in the United States begun receiving coronavirus vaccines. But on social media, false theories about the vaccines’ dangers and conspiracies about the government’s plans for it are multiplying.

Researchers at misinformation-research group Zignal Labs found that false narratives claiming that the vaccine contains tracking microchips and that the government will make vaccines mandatory continue to circulate. In some cases, right-leaning figures and news sites pushed the disinformation, as well as dubious websites and followers of bogus conspiracy theory QAnon.

Social media companies have been working all year to remove false and misleading information about the pandemic from their sites. Companies including Facebook and Twitter say they are redoubling their efforts with new rules related to vaccines this month, adding new labels and trying to point people to legitimate news...

Neil Johnson, a physics professor at George Washington University who maps the spread of misinformation online, said he thinks of it as if an entire neighborhood has a pest problem. If one neighbor cracks down on the pests, they just move to another yard — or, in this case, another social media site.

“They just go to the neighbor, regroup, and come back,” he said.

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