From Miles Parks at National Public Radio…
The odds of dying after getting a COVID-19 vaccine are virtually nonexistent.
But you might not know that from looking at your social media feed.
A new NPR analysis finds that articles connecting vaccines and death have been among the most highly engaged with content online this year, going viral in a way that could hinder people’s ability to judge the true risk in getting a shot.
The findings also illustrate a broader trend in online misinformation: With social media platforms making more of an effort to take down patently false health claims, bad actors are turning to cherry-picked truths to drive misleading narratives.
Experts say these storylines are much harder for companies to moderate, though they can have the same net effect of creating a distorted and false view of the world.
“It’s a really insidious problem,” said Deen Freelon, a communications professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “The social media companies have taken a hard line against disinformation; they have not taken a similarly hard line against fallacies.”
To date, the CDC’s reporting system has not received evidence linking any deaths directly to vaccines.
And yet, on almost half of all the days so far in 2021, a story about someone dying after receiving a vaccine shot has been among the most popular vaccine-related articles on social media, according to data from the media intelligence company NewsWhip.
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