Deliberate disinformation aids ignorant measles outbreaks

❝ A large measles outbreak in Washington state shows no sign of abating.

According to the State Department of Health, there are now at least 54 cases of the illness, all but one of which were located in Clark County, Washington, just across the river from Portland, Oregon. Directly to the south, the Oregon Health Authority has reported at least four cases. Within Clark County, the vast majority of diagnoses are of children 10 years old or younger.

❝ Measles — an airborne virus that can lead to lung infections, brain damage, and death in the worst cases — was responsible for thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year prior to the discovery of a vaccine in 1963. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but in the last year, there has been a worldwide resurgence of the virus, with cases increasing 30 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). One of the main drivers of this trend is a growing reluctance to vaccinate children, so much so that the WHO listed the anti-vaccination movement as one of its top ten threats to global health in 2019…

❝ According to a 2018 study by the American Journal of Public Health, combating the problem has been made even more difficult by Russian trolls spreading disinformation on the subject. As ThinkProgress has previously documented, Kremlin-backed disinformation agents have specifically focused on wedge issues designed to divide Americans — like Black Lives Matter and immigration issues. Anti-vaccination, it seems, has also fallen into that category.

Ignorance ain’t bliss, folks. It can kill your children and the kids around them. RTFA!

I grew up in the age when the only vaccine available for regular childhood vaccination was for diphtheria. It was common practice every spring among my playmates to gather in the schoolyard first nice day we were allowed outdoors at recess and see who didn’t make it through the winter. We lost one or two kids every winter. Even though measles could and would land in our factory town any time in the year, winter was always the most worrisome. Flu was a big killer. And, yes, we worried as much about polio in the summer. Still the number one killer in our neighborhood was measles.

4 thoughts on “Deliberate disinformation aids ignorant measles outbreaks

  1. Civil Defense says:

    Russian propaganda may be responsible for the persistence of measles as conspiracy theories about vaccinations spread across the Internet, according to researchers. (Newsweek 2/14/19) https://www.newsweek.com/russian-trolls-promoted-anti-vaccination-propaganda-measles-outbreak-1332016 “The same Russian trolls who attempted to provoke racial tensions and influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election were also responsible for spreading propaganda against vaccinations. Their efforts may have helped cause the measles outbreak that infected tens of thousands and killed dozens in Europe last year, researchers told Radio Free Europe.” See https://www.rferl.org/a/are-russian-trolls-saving-measles-from-extinction/29768471.html
    A 2018 report by the American Public Health Association, titled “Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate,” came to a similar conclusion. “Whereas bots that spread malware and unsolicited content disseminated antivaccine messages, Russian trolls promoted discord. Accounts masquerading as legitimate users create false equivalency, eroding public consensus on vaccination,” the report said. See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137759/

  2. Judas goat says:

    On Thursday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff wrote open letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai about his concern that the technology companies are allowing the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation. https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/15/health/facebook-anti-vaccine-posts-bn/index.html
    He wrote to Zuckerberg, “Facebook and Instagram are surfacing and recommending messages that discourage parents from vaccinating their children, a direct threat to public health, and reversing progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.”
    That open letter went on to ask Zuckerberg whether distributing medically inaccurate information about vaccines violated the social media platform’s terms of service and whether Facebook accepts paid advertising from anti-vaccine activists, among other questions.

  3. Quislings says:

    Vaccine misinformation and Infowars: Researchers wary of Facebook’s embrace of ‘Groups’ : “We need to know more about the networks and members of groups that spread false information and target individuals,” said Jonathan Albright of Columbia University. (NBC News 2/16/19) https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/vaccine-misinformation-infowars-researchers-wary-facebook-s-embrace-groups-n972286 “…The algorithm that powers the right rail of “suggested groups” isn’t public, and a Facebook spokesperson declined to give details other than saying they are tailored to individual users. But researchers like Renée DiResta, who studies online disinformation as director of research at cybersecurity company New Knowledge, have found Facebook “actively pushes” users down a rabbit hole of increasingly misinformed, conspiratorial and radical communities.”

  4. Santayana says:

    Die Impfung [“The vaccination”] Caption: “It occurs to me that little good comes from poison or from Jews.” Der Stürmer, (February 1932), a German tabloid-format newspaper that was a significant part of Nazi propaganda, and vehemently anti-Semitic.

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