Photo courtesy of ABC
Story by: Alejandra Medina, Columnist
I know a parent who is part of the anti-vaccination movement. This person is close to me, having been in my life since my birth. They have been by my side until they made their own family. I wonder what could have pushed them to believe misinformation about vaccines. Their children are precious, and I would fight anyone who harmed them. So, how could this person harm their kids inadvertently?
The World Health Organization released a list titled, “Ten threats to global health in 2019,” which includes “Vaccine Hesitancy” near the bottom. As noted by the article, the reasons behind the hesitancy are “complex” with one of the few “key” examples being “complacency.” Complacency catches my attention the most because Merriam-Webster defines the word as, “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” In relation to the parent I know, complacency is their key reason. The parent believes the government is corrupt, and by believing the misinformation of vaccinations, thinks the government is involved. As much as I doubt our government at times, vaccinations have never been involved. So, what is helping spread misinformation?
In an age where fake news is prevalent, Facebook is one of the platforms, unfortunately, contributing to this “vaccine hesitancy.” My curiosity pushed me to watch anti-vaccinations stories, called ‘anti-vaxx’ by the online community, I noticed how the many “anti-vaxxers” advocate their beliefs on social media. The parent I know has a Facebook account, so they most likely got the deceptive information from a reblog and decided to believe it. After all, the government is corrupt to them, and such a government would encourage doctors to murder their precious babies or if worse, give them autism. Why would Facebook lie to the parents? Why would anyone lie to parents?
Do I think Facebook is pushing an anti-vaccination agenda? No. Knowing how influential the platform is, having such a ridiculous stance would harm the credibility of the company. What is happening on Facebook are anti-vaxxers taking advantage of group pages and spreading the misinformation further. And the pages are still around. Simply look up Facebook vaccinations and the first two groups are “VRM: Vaccine Resistance Movement,” and, “Stop Mandatory Vaccinations.” Another group, “National Vaccination Information Center,” appears to be pro-vaccination, but the information posted points to the anti-vaccination cause.
In order to stop misinformation perpetuated by individuals who believe in falsities, Facebook needs to jump in. Although free-speech is prevalent on the internet, this does not equate to free reign. If a person screaming fire in a crowded theater is not allowed, a person screaming of doctors wanting to murder children with vaccinations should not be either. In order to proclaim a fire, a fire must be there. Therefore, Facebook needs to do something. I do not want them to delete anti-vaccination posts, but I do suggest them pushing for factual information. After all, silencing the opposing side only makes the matter worse.