In DepthPUBLIC HEALTH

Antivaccine forces gaining online

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Science  15 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6492, pp. 699
DOI: 10.1126/science.368.6492.699

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Summary

A first-of-its-kind analysis of more than 1300 Facebook pages with nearly 100 million followers has produced a network map that's alarming public health professionals. The analysis was published this week in Nature. It shows that during an 8-month period in 2019, antivaccine pages like Rage Against the Vaccines had fewer combined followers than pro-vaccine pages like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But the antivaccine pages, compared with their pro-vaccine counterparts, were more numerous, faster growing, and increasingly more connected to pages that were engaged but undecided about vaccines. If the trend continues, the researchers predict, antivaccine views will dominate online discussion in 10 years—a time when a future vaccine against COVID-19 may be critical to public health.

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