What does an anti-hate group have to do with policing conversations about medical issues online?
We didn’t know that it existed, or that we needed it, but here it is: an obscure UK-based non-profit called the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) – and it’s going after giant social networks for “making up to $1 billion a year from people following anti-vaccine misinformation.”
If true – one billion is a lot of money – but we’re talking trillion-dollar companies here, so the headline on this Independent article looks a to be bit of a clickbait.
That aside, the underlying message is that internet users should be more aware of the need to become more engaged in debating and fighting over not just any vaccine – it’s the coronavirus one, the one that doesn’t even exist.
To its credit, the CCDH does raise one interesting point: that during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and the havoc and fear its handling has caused all around the world – instead of clamoring for a vaccine at any cost, more and more people seem to be wondering about the safety of some future “rushed to market” product.
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If we agree to believe CCDH figures – “at least 57 million users now follow anti-vaxxers on mainstream platforms across the UK and US – up 7.7 million since the start of the outbreak.”
The Independent goes on to reveal that a UK YouGov poll showed “almost one in five British adults say they would refuse the injection if it becomes available, and a further 15 percent are unsure.”
Therefore, it’s time to ramp up the “pro-vaxxer” effort.
Epidemiologists and immunologists around the world are today still struggling to explain how this virus works, and what exactly affects the rate at which it spreads – but CCDH CEO Imran Ahmed has offered some surprisingly hard numbers:
“If 31 per cent of people do not take the vaccine we will not achieve herd immunity,” said Ahmed, formerly a political adviser and UK’s Labour Party activist, with no discernible medical background.
Other than boxing social networks users into echo-chambers and assuming that anyone “viewing” a type of online information automatically agrees with it, this self-appointed thought police would also like social media platforms fined for (still) allowing a plurality of voices.
If anything, anti-vaxxers will be suspicious about why an anti-hate group is getting involved in pushing censorship of anti-vax content and it’s likely to have the opposite effect.