Share article:
Share article:

Research: Watching YouTube can turn you against vaccination

Credit: Unsplash

Relying on social media for information, and in particular YouTube, is one of the factors that tends to turn a person against the vaccination campaigns being carried out across the world, according to research by Oxford and Southampton universities in the UK.

Other factors include a low level of confidence in government, and a tendency to believe in conspiracy theories.

Some social media, such as Facebook, have recently taken some action against the posting of scientifically-unsound information about Covid, but the protection is far from complete, and relies mainly on readers using the reporting feature.

YouTube, however, remains unregulated, and social media like that “pose a particular problem in contributing to vaccine hesitancy,” the research says.

The paper also warns that the algorithm used by YouTube to serve up videos you’re likely to want to see is based on previous viewing history, which is likely to create and then reinforce what they call an ‘echo chamber effect’. In other words, you get to hear what you’ve shown you want to hear.

Misinformation proliferates on some social media platforms because users receive content suggestions aligned with their fears and watch histories, driving them into deeper rabbit holes,” said Professor Melinda Mills of Oxford, one of the lead researchers, in a statement.

Information is often presented by non-experts, with limited fact checking, making it difficult to gauge the accuracy or balance the information.”

But social media channels are not the only culprit. Trust in government is key.

Misinformation thrives when there is a lack of trust in government, politics and elites, with a broader lesson that authorities need to communicate truthfully, clearly and consistently,” said Professor Will Jennings of Southampton university.

The paper found that more than 80% of Europeans and more than 70% of Americans use the internet as a source for health information, and finds growth in Internet use and reliance on social media sources such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok has changed the landscape of information gathering.

But YouTube was singled out.
“YouTube users were significantly less willing to be vaccinated, with a 45% probability of vaccine willingness,” the paper says.

A study of YouTube vaccine content found 65.5% of videos discouraged vaccine use, focussing on the threat of autism, undisclosed risks, adverse reactions and mercury in vaccines.

The paper is published by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.

Latest news

Why Belgium is regulating sex work
After decades of confusing rules and hypocritical policy, Belgium is finally regulating sex work by removing prostitution from the criminal law. ...
Up to 100 km/h winds expected across Belgium on Wednesday night
Gusts of up to 100 km/h are expected across Belgium on Wednesday night, according to the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI), which has issued a ...
Cycling traffic officially added to VRT’s traffic bulletin
Usually a list of updates for drivers on busy roads, traffic bulletins will now include the latest travel news for cyclists in Belgium, VRT announced ...
MEPs call for European strategy to protect workers from asbestos
Members of the European Parliament are calling on the Commission to create a strategy for removing all abestos from buildings in order to reduce the ...
Mandatory vaccine for carers: employers call for sanctions
In a notice submitted by the National Council for Work (CNT), employers have called for heavy penalties for healthcare workers who refuse to receive ...
Police pension protest blocks several Brussels crossroads
On Wednesday, around 350 police officers expressed their dissatisfaction about the unclear pension scheme, low salaries and politicised police unions ...
Belgium in Brief: A Consultative Committee Sequel
Sequels often have a lot to live up to and when it comes to movie franchises, it gets difficult to keep up the hype once you get towards the final ...
25 years ago today: 300,000 people marched in white against child abuse
On this day 25 years ago, over 300,000 people marched in Brussels to demand a more effective justice system and to support the families of Julie, ...
Windy weather forecast should lower gas prices
After weeks of relatively calm conditions, a return to windy weather should lower Europe's soaring energy prices. Wind turbines in the UK and Germany ...
EC calls on candidate countries to focus on fundamental reforms before they can join the EU
The European Commission adopted yesterday its 2021 Enlargement Package, providing a detailed assessment of the state of play and the progress made by ...
Cigarette-eating robot patrols Ghent streets to fight littering
A litter fighting (and eating) robot will be patrolling the streets of Ghent in the coming weeks in an effort to raise awareness of the growing ...
Display of child’s room in Brussels raises awareness of foster families
An exhibit that features a fictitious child’s bedroom has been on display since Tuesday at the Place d'Armes in Namur, with the support of the ...