Misinformation in the Internet age has some serious consequences
Misinformation in the Internet age is beginning to have serious consequences. Studies show our recent presidential election was affected by the spread of fake news stories. And over the past few years, the spread of anti-vaccination hysteria online has started to have a dangerous impact on our health. The growing number of parents who are skeptical of vaccinating their kids has led to a rise in measles, mumps, whooping cough, and chicken pox.
Recently Australian politician, Pauline Hanson, a senator from Queensland, came under fire for saying her country’s government was “blackmailing” parents by withholding welfare payments for unvaccinated children. “I think people have a right to investigate themselves,” Hanson said. “If having vaccinations and measles vaccinations is actually going to stop these diseases, fine, no problems.” Alarmed that a senior politician was bolstering anti-vaxxer claims, Catherine Hughes tweeted Hanson this photo of her son who died from whooping cough.
Hughes’ son died tragically from whooping cough after just 32 days outside the womb. “The advice [Hanson] is offering to parents is not just thoughtless, it’s dangerous,” Hughes told Buzzfeed. “I don’t know who is providing [Hanson with] advice about immunisation, but she needs to consider having a chat with some real experts.” After her son’s death, Hughes started Light for Riley, a non-profit organization that seeks to to educate people about the dangers of whooping cough, and to positively promote the need for vaccination.