Why social media hasn’t been able to shut down vaccine misinformation

“One of my biggest concerns is that social media companies will have difficulty handling the sheer volume of information,” said Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee and a physician. “Some of it will be good and some of it will be misleading. It might be difficult to tell the difference.”

“Distrust of vaccines has increased with loud voices using the platforms to spread fear,” said House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). He and a number of other congressional leaders are urging President-elect Joe Biden to tap a misinformation expert for his Covid-19 Task Force.

Skepticism is starting out high: As recently as late November, 40 percent of Americans said they would “definitely” or “probably” decide against getting inoculated — primarily out of concern about the vaccines’ safety and efficacy, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

If mistrust — or even just confusion — makes people more reluctant to get immunized, it could imperil efforts to end the pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 315,000 Americans and 1.5 million people around the world.