- In May, Instagram announced it would automatically block hashtag searches that generate anti-vaccination misinformation, but anti-vaxxers have since found loopholes to continue disseminating the content.
- Anti-vaxxers have been using symbols to replace words or accent marks in their hashtags in order to prevent Instagram’s algorithm from flagging their messages, Coda recently reported.
- Other digital platforms including Pinterest and YouTube have also been dealing with anti-vaccination content.
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In May, Instagram announced it would automatically block hashtag searches that generate anti-vaccination misinformation, but anti-vaxxers have since found loopholes to continue disseminating the content.
Anti-vaxxers have been using symbols to replace words or accent marks in their hashtags in order to prevent Instagram’s algorithm from flagging their messages, Coda recently reported.
Use of the accent mark the cedilla to spell “vaccine” as “vaççine” or use of parentheses to write “va((cine” are popular methods of gaming the system.
Additionally, anti-vaxxers have claimed other movements’ hashtags as their own, using #mybodymychoice and #righttochoose, which originated as pro-choice movement hashtags, to get their messages out on Instagram.
Some anti-vaxxers are also using pro-vaccine hashtags like #provax and #vaxwithme.
Instagram has an anti-vaxxer problem, but it’s not the only platform to deal with it
One anti-vaxxer named Holly, a Canadian in New York with the handle @novaccinesnoworries, told Coda that she prefers Instagram over Facebook for posting anti-vaccine content.
With Instagram, Holly told Coda, “while it’s still censored, it’s not as heavily done. Posts don’t really get removed that easily – even if someone reports them it’s really rare.”
According to Coda, Instagram has taken down posts that use some of the aforementioned hashtags, but new hashtags are being created daily to disseminate misinformation.
Other digital platforms have also been dealing with anti-vaccination content. In March, Amazon removed an anti-vaccination movie from its website after the company tagged it as an “Amazon’s Choice” product.
In August, Pinterest announced it would redirect any vaccine-related searches on the platform to sources like the World Health Organisation and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. And YouTube said it wouldn’t allow creators to profit off of any anti-vaccine videos uploaded to its platform.
Vaccines can prevent and even eliminate certain diseases
Anti-vaxxers often say that instead of getting a vaccine against a vaccine like the chicken pox or measles, getting the infection itself, weathering it, and healing is the most natural and effective way to prevent the same infection in the future, but there’s no science to back up this claim.
It’s “incorrect that getting the natural disease is going to make your immunity stronger so you don’t need a vaccine, which is a much safer option,” paediatrician Dr. Natasha Burgert previously told Insider. “People don’t realise that the reason we made vaccines is because they can’t kill kids.”
Instead of the exposure approach, parents should vaccinate any child who isn’t medically exempt. Doing so can help create herd immunity, a concept in which as many people as possible get vaccines in order to protect themselves and other community members who are unable to get vaccines for health reasons, like HIV or cancer.
In many cases, herd immunity has stopped the spread of once-rampant diseases like diphtheria and whooping cough.
- Read more:
- The US is battling its worst measles outbreak in 25 years, and summer camps are getting ready to turn away unvaccinated kids
- What you need to know about the US measles outbreak – the largest since the disease was eradicated
- Anti-vaxx memes are thriving on Instagram
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