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Web 2.0 and vaccines: opportunities and activism, where expertise and legitimacy of science are questioned

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To read: 2 recent articles

1 is by the Canadian  Anna Kata who already pusblished on vaccination misinformation

Anti-vaccine activists, Web 2.0, and the postmodern paradigm – An overview of tactics and tropes used online by the anti-vaccination movement. VaccineVolume 30, Issue 25, 28 May 2012, Pages 3778-3789. DOI:10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.11.112

Websites opposing vaccination are prevalent on the Internet. Web 2.0, defined by interaction and user-generated content, has become ubiquitous. Furthermore, a new postmodern paradigm of healthcare has emerged, where power has shifted from doctors to patients, the legitimacy of science is questioned, and expertise is redefined. Together this has created an environment where anti-vaccine activists are able to effectively spread their messages. Evidence shows that individuals turn to the Internet for vaccination advice, and suggests such sources can impact vaccination decisions – therefore it is likely that anti-vaccine websites can influence whether people vaccinate themselves or their children. This overview examines the types of rhetoric individuals may encounter online in order to better understand why the anti-vaccination movement can be convincing, despite lacking scientific support for their claims. Tactics and tropes commonly used to argue against vaccination are described. This includes actions such as skewing science, shifting hypotheses, censoring dissent, and attacking critics; also discussed are frequently made claims such as not being “anti-vaccine” but “pro-safe vaccines”, that vaccines are toxic or unnatural, and more. Recognizing disingenuous claims made by the anti-vaccination movement is essential in order to critically evaluate the information and misinformation encountered online.



The second is by Cornelia Betsch, (et al.)

Opportunities and challenges of Web 2.0 for vaccination decisions. Vaccine, Volume 30, Issue 25, 28 May 2012, Pages 3727-3733. DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.02.025

A growing number of people use the Internet to obtain health information, including information about vaccines. Websites that allow and promote interaction among users are an increasingly popular source of health information. Users of such so-called Web 2.0 applications (e.g. social media), while still in the minority, represent a growing proportion of online communicators, including vocal and active anti-vaccination groups as well as public health communicators. In this paper, the authors: define Web 2.0 and examine how it may influence vaccination decisions; discuss how anti-vaccination movements use Web 2.0 as well as the challenges Web 2.0 holds for public health communicators; describe the types of information used in these different settings; introduce the theoretical background that can be used to design effective vaccination communication in a Web 2.0 environment; make recommendations for practice and pose open questions for future research. The authors conclude that, as a result of the Internet and Web 2.0, private and public concerns surrounding vaccinations have the potential to virally spread across the globe in a quick, efficient and vivid manner. Web 2.0 may influence vaccination decisions by delivering information that alters the perceived personal risk of vaccine-preventable diseases or vaccination side-effects. It appears useful for public health officials to put effort into increasing the effectiveness of existing communication by implementing interactive, customized communication. A key step to providing successful public health communication is to identify those who are particularly vulnerable to finding and using unreliable and misleading information. Thus, it appears worthwhile that public health websites strive to be easy to find, easy to use, attractive in its presentation and readily provide the information, support and advice that the searcher is looking for. This holds especially when less knowledgeable individuals are in need of reliable information about vaccination risks and benefits

Written by hbasset

May 29, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Posted in Science 2.0

Tagged with ,

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