My project focuses on anti-vaccination content in both textual and visual form. However, I have chosen to examine this content through visualization so that I may build a timeline detailing the evolution. I will similarly specifically explore how the internet has been used to accelerate and even legitimize the anti-vaccination movement. Overall, this research process has been interesting and certainly surprising.
Although vaccinations are effective and safe, there have still been many anti-vaccination movements. For this research, I chose to focus on three specific anti-vaccination movements: protests against the smallpox vaccine, anti-vaccination content regarding a supposed (disproven) link between the MMR vaccine and autism and current opposition against the COVID-19 vaccine. Finding a link between these three ant-vaccination movements has been fairly easy (many arguments are ableist, many are focused on potential side effects rather than the vaccine’s effectiveness). However, one minor concern that I have is how to truly synthesize this information for a better argument. I have found that while working on a paper, it is not uncommon for another research question to emerge or the research to provide another set of information and am not too concerned. Thus far, my project has been collection-based: I’ve been collecting anti-vaccination articles and anti-vaccination images. I haven’t run into any major issues; however, finding scientific graphs that show a link between vaccines and health problems has been difficult.
I have begun typing up my findings and building a basic timeline. My hope is to begin placing the images in a proper timeline format by the end of next week (specifically an online one.) However, finding the images was a bit harder than anticipated, and therefore I am still finding them. This is still very much a work in progress: I began this journey understanding both the importance and difficulty of this process: Facebook has begun to remove anti-vaccination content, and Twitter has begun to remove anti-vaccination users, specifically those who spread disinformation regarding vaccines. However, I am optimistic that these measures will not negatively impact my work. I am excited to continue my research.