American and British scientists, with the help of funding through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have developed an Internet-based global monitoring system that’s capable of mining social media sites for opinions that diverge from mainstream medical advice on the safety and urgency of getting vaccinated.
As more people in developed countries eschew the much-evangelized regimen of vaccinations for infants, students and adults hoping to avoid seasonal illness like the flu, makers of vaccines are renewing their push to keep as many people as possible receptive to the challenged belief that vaccines prevent, and don’t actually cause, disease.
What’s the goal of developing the real-time monitoring network — called “HealthMap” by its makers — to track dissenters online? To report errant beliefs, and those who share them, to health authorities, of course. From May 2011 until April 2012, HealthMap collected 3,209 reports originating from 144 countries that expressed fear, skepticism, distrust or other negative opinions about the vaccine industry.
One of the system’s creators, Heidi Larson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said public health officials will be able to do “systematic monitoring and assessment of media reports for vaccine sentiment, with the aim of detecting concerns as they emerge and evolve in real time.
“Real-time monitoring and analysis of vaccine concerns could help governments and public health officials locally, nationally, and globally understand where they should focus their attention and resources when a concern arises, and where specific vaccines might need more tailored engagement strategies.”
The first step in isolating and relegating a group of like-minded thinkers to marginal status is to identify them, and those who question the efficacy of inoculations believe HealthMap takes a big step down that path.
“If you post articles to your Facebook wall that warn others about the dangers of vaccines, or Tweet links to the latest studies tying vaccines to autism through Twitter, the vaccine pushers of the world could soon know about it in real time,” warns Natural News.
“This brave new exercise in multinational, Big Brother spying is being hailed as a solution to the rapid spread of so-called ‘rumors’ and ‘lies’ about vaccines via the internet, which basically constitute any online free speech that questions the safety or effectiveness of vaccines.”