Folk Theories of Avoiding Content Moderation: How Vaccine-Opposed Influencers Amplify Vaccine Opposition on Instagram

Moran, Rachel E.; Grasso, Izzi; Koltai, Kolina
Social Media + Society

This study analyzes how vaccine-opposed users on Instagram share anti-vaccine content despite facing growing moderation attempts by the platform. Through a thematic analysis of Instagram content (in-feed and ephemeral ?stories?) of a sample of vaccine-opposed Instagram users, we explore the observable tactics deployed by vaccine-opposed users in their attempts to avoid content moderation and amplify anti-vaccination content. Tactics range from lexical variations to encode vaccine-related keywords, to the creative use of Instagram features and affordances. The emergence of such tactics exists as a type of ?folk theorization??the cultivation of non-professional knowledge of how visibility on the platform works. Findings highlight the complications of content moderation as a route to minimizing misinformation, the consequences of algorithmic opacity and knowledge-building within problematic online communities.