Dangerous anti-vaccine tweets have spiked—from rich people in just 5 states

Enlarge / LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 14, 2015: Kathleen Miller, 46, right, with her children at a rally of parents and teachers who oppose efforts to end the personal belief exemption on vaccinations. (credit: Getty | Irfan Khan)

The noxious clamoring of a privileged minority has grown louder on Twitter—imperiling public health, a new study warns.

The volume of dangerous tweets falsely linking life-saving vaccines to autism spiked dramatically in recent years. But the alarming uptick doesn’t necessarily represent a surge in anti-vaccine sentiments in overall public opinion. Instead, the uptick indicates the amplifying voices of very specific demographics: people from affluent, largely populated areas in just five states—California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania.

The study’s authors, led by psychologist Theodore Tomeny of the University of Alabama, say the rise is worrying. But, they argue, keeping an eye on social media may help shush the misinformation at its source.

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