South Africa: Disinformation in a Time of Covid-19 – Anti-Vaxxers – a Lost Cause?

Combating anti-vaxxer content and disinformation isn’t just the task of civil society, government and platforms, but of all professional bodies and entities.

William Bird is director and Thandi Smith heads the Policy & Quality Programme at Media Monitoring Africa, a partner in the 411 platform to counter disinformation.

Week 26: Anti-vaxxers – a lost cause?

Anti-vaxxers are indeed a sensitive bunch. In response to our piece about Dr Susan Vosloo last week we had insults and “HandsOffDrVosloo” hashtags sent our way. There were more long dreary videos of people earnestly explaining just how evil vaccines are, how they poison the blood etc, and there seems to be little hope of encouraging them to consider a different reality (rather just, reality). It’s easy to just write them off, but there are a number of reasons why we can’t afford to.

While we may not be able to shift the thinking and approach of anti-vaxxers, we do know that their scare tactics and fear-mongering can affect the views of those who may be vaccine hesitant. When we refer to anti-vaxxers we mean those who spread false, inaccurate and unverified information about vaccines. People who are hesitant about vaccines often have legitimate concerns…

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