Anti-Vaccine Messages on Facebook: A preliminary audit

Dhaliwal, Dhamanpreet; Mannion, Cynthia A.
PURE Research Report, University of Calgary

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified vaccine hesitancy as one of the top ten threats to global health(WHO, 2019). Social media has fuelled the anti-vaccine movement. Facebook is the largest social media platform counting over 2 billion active monthly users (Statista, 2019). It has been identified as a key disseminator of misinformation surrounding the anti-vaccine campaign by the New York Times 2019 and there have been serious efforts to reduce misinformation on the social media site by lowering ranking of groups and pages making false claims. Social media administrators have been urged to remove these pages and groups altogether, however counterarguments cite violation of human rights to access to uncensored information. This paper exposes some messages of the anti-vaccine movement online and how individuals perceive vaccination through posted comments. We consider that individuals’ responses to anti-vaccination preclude inaction to vaccinate. Lack of vaccination places the public at risk and decreases public health efforts to curb measles, polio, and outbreaks of influenza (flu).