Yahoo News/YouGov Poll Shows Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Spreading on the Right May Hamper Vaccine Efforts

Andrew Romano, reporting for Yahoo News:

According to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll, 44 percent of Republicans believe that Bill Gates is plotting to use a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign as a pretext to implant microchips in billions of people and monitor their movements — a widely debunked conspiracy theory with no basis in fact.

The survey, which was conducted May 20 and 21, found that only 26 percent of Republicans correctly identify the story as false. In contrast, just 19 percent of Democrats believe the same spurious narrative about the Microsoft founder and public-health philanthropist. A majority of Democrats recognize that it’s not true.

It’s slightly worse among Fox News viewers:

Take the Gates example. Half of all Americans (50 percent) who name Fox News as their primary television news source believe the disproven conspiracy theory, and 44 percent of voters who cast ballots for Trump in 2016 do as well — even though neither Fox nor Trump has promoted it. At the same time, just 15 percent of MSNBC viewers and 12 percent of Clinton voters say the story is true.

Depressing, to say the least. Social networks need to treat anti-vaccination disinformation the way they treat hate speech. This dangerous nonsense doesn’t need to be refuted, it needs to be shunned. It is as shameful to allow these theories to propagate on social networks as it is to allow KKK propaganda. Relegate these lunacies back to forwarded email chains. Keep in mind too that the people who refuse to be vaccinated aren’t just hurting themselves. They hurt their children, who don’t have a choice, and they suppress the herd immunity that protects those with immune disorders for whom vaccines are dangerous.

Friday, 22 May 2020