Axios, May 2021
COVID-19 is the first major pandemic in the social media era — offering experts a rare opening to study the relationship between online misinformation and human behavior on a large scale.
Why it matters: As misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines runs rampant, researchers are trying to measure how much memes and messages with false information can alter someone’s decision to get vaccinated.
What’s happening: Daily COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. have slowed over the past month, and those Americans remaining are less enthusiastic about being vaccinated, suggesting the country is hitting a vaccine wall.
- “There is mounting evidence that exposure to certain types of media is associated with hesitancy,” says Kayla de la Haye, who studies social networks and their impact on health and disease prevention at the University of Southern California.
- Tech platforms are scrambling to deal with vaccine disinformation, but experts argue they may be too late and misinformation is persisting. Earlier this year, Facebook said it would remove groups and pages that may discourage people from getting vaccines, after initially saying it wouldn’t treat vaccine misinformation with as much rigor as regular COVID-19 misinformation.