The Small, Small World of Facebook's Anti-vaxxers - 2019-02-27
While there is no dearth of posts related to vaccines, the top 50 Facebook pages ranked by the number of public posts they made about vaccines generated nearly half (46 percent) of the top 10,000 posts for or against vaccinations, as well as 38 percent of the total likes on those posts, from January 2016 to February of this year. The distribution is heavy on the top, particularly for the anti-vax position. Just seven anti-vax pages generated nearly 20 percent of the top 10,000 vaccination posts in this time period: Natural News, Dr. Tenpenny on Vaccines and Current Events, Stop Mandatory Vaccination, March Against Monsanto, J. B. Handley, Erin at Health Nut News, and Revolution for Choice.
Read: How misinfodemics spread disease
Despite panic in cases such as the current measles outbreak in the United States, anti-vaccination activism most likely has been substantially less influential than it sometimes appears to be. As Slate's Daniel Engber has pointed out, U.S. vaccination rates for measles, for example, have barely budged in recent years: It was 91.5 percent in 2005, and again in 2010, and again in 2014, and again in 2017. What has changed is the (social) media ecosystem. Even if the bulk of Americans aren't changing their behavior, anti-vaccine talking points are more widely available thanks to the concentration of social activity on a few platforms and the substantial reach of a small number of anti-vax media organs.