The opinions of approximately 100 million Facebook users from 37 countries have been transferred on a color-coded map. Researchers from across the US used data analysis methods to develop the visualization of the social media environment of opinions over vaccinations. The results were intriguing and yet shocking.
The map features the relationships between defenders of vaccines, its opponents, and those whose opinions lie somewhere in between. Here is what the researchers found.
The First Map of Vaccine Battlegrounds
Online, there is a new world war. Social platforms, such as Facebook, allow users to express their views and share them with others. No one knew how a social environment in times of war looked like, but thanks to the new study, we can find out.
Researchers developed a map using publicly-available information from more than 1,000 Facebook pages between February and October 2019. Each page displays a bunch of individuals who are expected to value a position on vaccination. The data-mapping technique is also dubbed snowballing, and it was utilized to define how the groups linked to one another. The connections from each bunch to other pager were counted, and the page’s links were also tallied. Finally, using a software, researchers transcribed the network into a simple graphic.
The online communities representing the vaccine opponents are marked with red, while blue circles depict the defenders. Those without a clear view received the color green on the map. “The blues are at war in the wrong place, they are off to one side, and the main activity is around the reds which are absolutely entangled with this whole slew of green communities,” explained Neil Johnson, a complexity theory researcher from the George Washington University in the US.
The results, all the numbers, and the diversity of anti-vaccination websites and the activity of those weighing their ideas make for a sobering wake-up call. There are 6.9 million supporters, while the anti-vaccination camp reaches 4.2 million. Unfortunately, this is a war, and we’re ill-equipped to win.