COVID-19 misinformation on the rise at Twitter

It's another sad day for public health. While COVID-19 continues to circulate with reckless abandon, because most people—encouraged by lackluster, minimizing, and purposely Pollyannaish messaging efforts at state and federal levels—have recklessly abandoned any mitigation efforts, the hits keep coming for public health experts who are still trying their best to educate people about the importance of vaccination, mask wearing, social distancing, and other useful tools.

The latest bad news for public health is that due to a series of fumbles (to put it kindly), health misinformation—specifically about vaccines and COVID-19—is on the rise again on Twitter.  Melody Schreiber, writing for The Guardianexplains:

As the troubled social media platform Twitter rolled out a paid verification system and laid off thousands of content moderators, health misinformation accounts on the social network began pushing their messages to a wider audience than ever. Under Elon Musk's new direction for Twitter, several anti-vaccine accounts with tens of thousands of followers are now verified by paying $7.99 a month for Twitter Blue. …

Before the change in leadership, Twitter was working to remove some accounts that spread anti-vaccine disinformation. But "now it looks like Twitter's giving these accounts some legitimacy", said Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist and dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. "It looks like now they're going to move in the wrong direction, and actually help promote groups that are touting anti-vaccine, anti-science disinformation."

Honestly, the only reason I'm staying on Twitter (at least for the time being) is because it's been a reliable source of COVID-19 news up to this point. There are still some terrific public health experts on Twitter who I look to for COVID-19 news and facts, and I'll continue doing so until they leave the platform. If you want to follow some good sources of COVID-19 information, here are my recommendations: Dr. Elizabeth Jacobs, epidemiologist; Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP); Dr. Eric Ding-Feigl, epidemiologist and health economist; and Dr. Eric Topol, Professor of Molecular Medicine.