Anti-vaccination Communities

The anti-vaccination movement encompasses several different approaches. Some groups deliberately share misleading information about vaccination, while others have genuine fears regarding it. During the four months studied, the anti-vaccination movement recruited undecided or fearful people faster than pro-vaccination groups did. It appears that some false arguments have spread better than truthful information.

 

Even though Twitter has been marking many tweets as “misleading,” there are many different new anti-vaccine discussions. Some have powerful, creative “memes” that go viral. Although they are jokes, data shows a dangerous relationship between ignorance and comedy, because a significant number of people go from looking at these jokes to joining anti-vaccination communities.

Related communities

The most significant anti-vaccination communities are described below, taking into consideration influencers and organic movement.

Anti-vaccination Journalists & Critics

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This community includes anti-vaccine journalists and political critics. Some are pro-Trump, so there is a peak in their conversation around Biden’s victory in presidential election. Although they do not recognize themselves as being anti-vaccination, their followers share their misleading information, giving undue weight to comments about issues in the programs or risks associated with getting the vaccine.

There are multiple critics of the FDA’s emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccines, believing that the vaccines did not undergo enough testing and that severe side effects could present randomly. The conversation within this group is 46.52% negative, 6.43% positive, and 47.05% neutral but trending negative. This community has lost volume in the past several weeks, but it has picked up among people discussing the negative conversation. California, Texas, Florida, and New York are the states most represented in this community.

Power Profiles

Most leaders in this community are journalists, columnists, and lawyers. Even though they do not have many followers, they have managed to viralize their messages very quickly.

The main voices in this community are:

  • Author and former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson
  • Chairman of anti-vaccine advocacy group Children’s Health Defense Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
  • Maggie Vanden-Berghe, a self-described “Pro-Trump Patriot” and “Conservative Creator” from California.
  • Dr. David Samadi, who is not anti-vax at all but a hard critic of the program and logistics around this vaccine.

AI tools have detected links between conservative political activist and investigative journalist James O’Keefe and severak important voices within the anti-vaccination movement, but by the end of this study, it was not possible to verify this. This could be a false positive given his work as an investigative journalist, which involves exposing leaks and conversations from groups like CNN or Facebook.

Alex Berenson
Dr. David Samadi
@drdavidsamadi
James O’KeefeIII
@JamesOKeefeIII
Robert F. Kennedy Jr
@RobertKennedyJr
Maggie VandenBerghe
@FogCityMidge

Hashtags

Hashtags reveals the tone of the conversation. There are several topics on the table, but overall sentiment about vaccine side effects, the vaccination program, and the FDA’s “fast-tack” procedure is extremely negative.

Keywords

Keywords are the most used words within a conversation or community. They help clarify the main conversation topics, identify writing style, and provide other valuable insights.

The most important keywords in this group refer to vaccine brands, risks, and general terms like “COVID” or “vaccine.”

Geographic Distribution

Most of the participants in this group are from California and New York, with 47% of all publications concentrated in these states. In these locations, there are many more conversations about COVID-19 vaccines and all the communities around them.

Region People Tweets Reach Reach percentages
California 3,169 9,715 24,640,129 29.88%
New York 1,876 4,016 14,476,076 17.55%
Texas 960 2,188 2,409,779 2.92%
Florida 527 1,274 1,646,311 2.00%
Arizona 227 736 390,582 0.47%
New Mexico 53 111 88,272 0.11%
Totals 6,812 18,040 43,651,149 52.93%

Profession and Gender Distribution

Journalists, artists, students, and lawyers are the most active participants in this community’s discourse, all following a similar line of conversation about the risks of COVID-19 vaccines and the alleged long-term side effects they will have.

Professions Gender People Percentages Reach
Journalist (Editor) Female 795 12.31% 9,584,609
Journalist (Editor) Male 93 1.44% 201,271
Artist Female 267 4.13% 205,917
Artist Male 135 2.09% 105,589
Student Female 282 4.37% 388,252
Student Male 217 3.36% 162,726
Lawyer Female 144 2.23% 448,330
Lawyer Male 115 1.78% 1,510,638
Teacher Female 151 2.34% 140,393
Teacher Male 83 1.29% 118,531
Politician (Mayor) Female 10 0.16% 66,194
Politician (Mayor) Male 5 0.08% 9,514
Totals 2,297 35.56% 12,941,964

Conversation Sentiment

The sentiment in this community is 62% negative. This is due not only to the numerous comments against COVID-19 vaccines, but also the responses to those who support vaccination.

Hispanics Tweeting in Spanish

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This community is highly diverse, including people who fear the new vaccines, people who are uncertain of the process behind their development, and people who are pro-vaccination but engage with this community to try to encourage them to reconsider their beliefs.

Power Profiles

This diverse community is made up of personalities of all kinds, including actress Jane Fonda, who shared that she took the second shot of the vaccine, and CNN en Español, whose content is regularly shared and criticized or attacked.

Carmen Baños
@carmen_banos
Janefonda
@Janefonda
CNN en Español
@CNNEE
jush_for_fun
@jush_for_fun

Hashtags

Most conversations fall into two main groups: Those who openly say they will not be vaccinated with the hashtags #yonomevacuno (I do not get vaccinated) and conspiracy plans like #plandemia, and those who refute these conversations with #yosimevacuno (I do get vaccinated) and #yonotengomiedo (I do not fear). Many publications are related to people who are high-risk, like grandparents.

Keywords

The most common keywords reflect this community’s concerns, reflected in the words used most frequently in conversations – whether from their own or in retweeted content. “Riesgo” (risk), “vacuna covid” (COVID vaccine), “efectos secundarios” (side effects), and “miedo” (fear) are the most common keywords.

Geographic Distribution

Region People Tweets Reach Reach percentages
California 784 2,255 3,763,461 12.32%
Florida 510 1,703 11,489,077 37.61%
New York 370 1,080 2,173,279 7.15%
Texas 402 934 1,023,530 3.35%
Arizona 63 159 225,632 0.73%
New Mexico 33 82 72,717 0.23%
Totals 2,162 6213 18,747,696 61.39%

Profession and Gender Distribution

Professions Gender People Percentages Reach
Journalist female 42 5.87% 155,674
Journalist male 19 2.65% 314,797
Journalist (Reporter) female 55 7.68% 652,713
Journalist (Reporter) male 5 0.70% 20,140
Student female 29 4.05% 19,604
Student male 11 1.54% 7,132
Professor male 24 3.35% 424,352
Professor female 9 1.26% 15,212
Journalist (Correspondent) male 19 2.65% 99,970
Journalist (Correspondent) female 4 0.56% 31,684
CEO male 6 0.84% 424
CEO female 4 0.56% 1,141
Totals 227 31.71% 1,742,843

Conversation Sentiment

This conversation is divided between those who hold neutral positions, those with negative opinons about vaccines, and those who want to vaccinate themselves.

Pro-vaccination Individuals Critical of Vaccine Logistics and Programs

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This community contains very varied personalities, including journalists, doctors, lawyers, scientific advidors, and researchers, all concerned with refuting false ideas about COVID vaccine side effects.

They cannot be considered truly anti-vaccination, but they are prevalent in and relevant to this community due to their desire to counteract the negative (even deadly) effects of accepting unproven and/or misleading information about the vaccine. They are critical not only of those who share content they consider false, but also of the practices and policies used by mass media and politicians.

Power Profile

Renowned personalities from the science and journalism world participate in this community, and in fact, account for more than 80% of all publications. This includes people such as:

  • Conservative journalist Mary Katharine Ham, who works with Townhall Magazine and CNN to raise awareness that the risks of COVID-19 are greater than any side effect.
  • British evolutionary biologist and scientific writer Richard Dawkins, who criticizes those who falsely claim that COVID-19 vaccines have side effects worse than the disease itself.
  • Economics and political journalist Matthew Yglesias, who criticizes the irresponsibility of spreading myths about the vaccine.
  • Canadian-American economist Alexander Tabarrok, who uses numbers to try to show anti-vaccine communities that misinformation is the diseases “best” ally.
Nate Silver
@NateSilver538
David Wallace-Wells
@dwallacewells
AviMayer
@AviMayer
Mary Katharine Ham
@mkhammer

Hashtags

Unlike other communities, this one regularly mentions specific pharmaceutical companies, such as #pfizer, #approveastrazeneca, and #moderna, also referring to the FDA in their publications with hashtags like #unclogtheFDA – a movement that seeks to generate pressure to prioritize vaccine authorization and expand access to them. Another common one is the #vaccineswork hashtag, which is dedicated to reporting that despite posts promoting otherwise, vaccines are safe and efficient. These are just a few examples.

Keywords

This community’s keywords emphasize that there are more risks in not taking the vaccine than in their side effects. Pharmaceutical company names are also relevant, with Pfizer being the one mentioned most.

Geographic Distribution

Region People Tweets Reach Reach percentages
California 833 2,418 4,946,981 9.73%
Washington D.C. 359 1,669 13,723,582 26.99%
New York 589 1,648 9,861,737 19.40%
Texas 410 1,111 1,990,297 3.92%
Arizona 203 638 2,584,609 5.08%
Florida 241 619 931,119 1.83%
New Mexico 15 26 6,446 0.01%
Totals 2650 8,129 34,044,771 66.97%

Profession and Gender Distribution

Professions Gender People Percentages Reach
Journalist (Editor) male 185 6.01% 1,979,872
Journalist (Editor) female 54 1.75% 903,810
Lawyer male 128 4.16% 88,164
Lawyer female 31 1.01% 28,755
Attorney male 111 3.61% 285,663
Attorney female 32 1.04% 17,626
Journalist (Columnist) male 140 4.55% 1,237,217
Journalist (Columnist) female 40 1.30% 1,047,626
Student male 88 2.86% 67,074
Student female 11 0.36% 1,617
Teacher female 43 1.40% 15,811
Teacher male 42 1.37% 15,268
Totals 905 29.40% 5,688,503

Conversation sentiment

The conversation is divided between those who seek to inform and those who express themselves negatively about those who refuse vaccines. It also includes the anti-vaccination profiles they engage with.