A growing movement is pressuring Facebook to tackle the issue of closed groups, which promote anti-vaccination and spread misinformation about vaccines. One of the most widespread misconceptions – or an outright lie, as some call it – is a suggestion to use massive doses of vitamin C instead of tested vaccines that save lives. Anti-vaxxers are not that much open, though. Their communities on Facebook are closed and each new member must be pre-approved by the admins. This also means that there are fewer people who can challenge the falsehoods popularized in such groups.
The magnitude of anti-vaccination communities on Facebook is alarmingly broad. Stop Mandatory Vaccination, for example, has some 150,000 members. A group, which promotes vitamin C vs. vaccines, convinces people that not only vitamin C is an alternative to vaccines, but that it can also help overcome the negative effects of vaccines – which are tested safe. Scientists and health experts are becoming increasingly vocal about the dangers of such misinterpretations. They also warn about the fact that pseudo-science promoting anti-vaccination is getting well beyond the boundaries of self-harm and is actually harming others.
By now, the anti-vaxxers movement has grown into a global health risk. The WHO has announced vaccine hesitancy to be one of the 2019 major ten global health risks. The organization reported a 30 percent spike in measles, which can be effectively prevented by vaccination. Children are especially vulnerable to the disease, which can result, among other things, in brain inflammation and death. Just last month, a state of emergency was declared in Washington following 48 cases of measles. A majority of those, who contracted the disease, were not vaccinated.
In the meantime, closed Facebook groups abound in adverts selling vitamin C powder and spreading pseudo-science. When scrutinized by journalists and activists, admins of these groups tend to get even more secretive and bar access to their communities to those who question their views on vaccines. Doctors say that they cannot stress enough the fact that vitamin C has zero effect on immunization.
While Mark Zuckerberg advocates for more research into vaccines and provides a $3 billion funding to further this goal, his company has nevertheless received ad revenues from ads run by anti-vaxxers groups.
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