A new $1 million influence campaign will be launched in Australia to combat the rise of ‘anti-vaccination sentiment’ online and to “further promote of the benefits of vaccines”.
The Australian government will team with The Templeton Foundation, one of the world’s largest philanthropic organisations, to begin influencing a number of digital forums across the internet.
Dominating television airwaves and newspaper columns for the better part of half a decade now, the debate has evolved to become a daily talking point amongst the general populous in Australia, with an increasing amount of government legislated policies being introduced accordingly as a result.
A network of government and pharmaceutical authorities have manipulated this ongoing conversation with powerful lobbying used to counter evidence against the positives of vaccination.
To this end, it has recently been announced that more than a million dollars has been secured to run an influence campaign against anti-vaccination messages online.
A new plan is underway to build an algorithm that can work out the best pro-vaccine messages to send in a variety of digital forums and platforms, and when to send them.
Pro-vax tweeters will be told the best accounts to target, and targeted adverts will be purchased.
All the messages will be tuned to convey trustworthiness and compassion:
“The messages that seem to resonate most are not ones that invoke hard evidence.
They are the ones that convey a sense of trustworthiness. That doctors and scientists and drug manufacturers have people’s best interests at heart.”
The funding comes from the federal government and the Templeton Foundation, a huge philanthropic trust that blends scientific and religious politics.
The organisation has an extensive grant-funding program (around $150 million per year) aimed at supporting research in physics, biology, psychology and the social sciences.
As of 2015, the foundation has awarded nearly a billion dollars in grants and charitable contributions, and was the 55th largest grantor among American foundations.
The stakes are high. The Templeton Foundation holds assets valued at around $1 billion, a sum that will likely swell to $2.5 billion in the years to come as John Templeton Sr.’s estate is settled.
The new campaign is the latest in a series of ongoing lobbying efforts by government authorities, private interests and the medical establishment to discredit the anti-vaccination movement.
For example, in 2017, the government launched a $5.5 million immunisation education campaign to counter the views of the anti-vaccination lobby with information that parents could easily access.
Professor Brian Martin, PhD supervisor at Wollongong University, has written several articles on the strategies being used by lobby groups to prevent open debate on the vaccination issue.
Influenza vaccination advertising has also been funded under the Australian National Immunisation Program since 2010, including the New South Wales Health influenza Public Information Campaign.
In 2016, the annual campaign focused on the power of media platforms to spread their messages:
“Both traditional and social media platforms can be used to promote influenza vaccination.
Press releases issued before the peak influenza season are warranted to raise awareness and encourage vaccine uptake. However, they may struggle to achieve high media uptake and so should be followed with later media releases that highlight increased influenza activity; later releases are more readily personalised and likely to achieve greater media uptake.
Our findings and recommendations should be of interest to healthcare providers and public health agencies Australia-wide, to inform campaigns and programs that seek to improve the uptake of antenatal influenza vaccination.”
The action of these lobby groups is resulting in a misinformed public, as the pro-vaccine lobby groups are providing selective information (and misinformation) about vaccines — discrediting individuals who present valid science against vaccines.
During this campaign, 31 news articles were published in traditional media between April and August 2016, with a single advertisement on the NSW Health Facebook page having 449,609 impressions:
The TGA has also reminded immunisation providers to be aware that advertisements for vaccines are subject to the therapeutic goods legislation and must comply with the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 and the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code.
The TGA advises those who are advertising vaccination services to avoid using any critical or discrediting comments against the validity of ‘proven’ scientific research on the issue:
The cards have certainly been stacked against those who side opposite of the establishment.
The current vaccine crackdown in Australia began in 2013, when nine local areas were identified by the ‘National Health Performance Authority’ as being “at risk of outbreaks of preventable and potentially deadly diseases” such as measles and chicken pox.
As a result of these findings, multiple campaigns have since been launched across Australia to try and improve immunisation statistics, including cutting family tax benefits for families and the very heated ‘No Jab, No Play/Pay’ campaigns launched in 2013.
The Australian government’s claims of safety and efficacy of vaccines are being underpinned by non-objective science provided by an oligarchy of pharmaceutical companies through industry-funded institutions.
In this hostile climate, any citizen questioning vaccination policy is reflexively labelled an ‘anti-vaxxer’ and marginalised or even censored.
Australia has seen increased programming from mainstream media and government authorities in recent years, including advertising campaigns and urges for various changes across workplace policies and public legislation — slowly coercing the population.
Today, most workplaces run intensive vaccination programs, which may include mass immunisation clinics, mobile carts, posters and email reminders, and some industries, will not accept you as an employee or your child into care without updated vaccination documents.
Many civil liberty groups and pro-choice campaigners have expressed concerns in recent years that, while not openly mandatory just yet, subtle changes in vaccine perception and policy in Australia will lead the public to a system where vaccination will be a staple for essential activities in life.
As long as the Australian public continue to be fed one-sided information from lobbyist campaigns across the country, this road will only begin to further manifest with each passing day.
Anti-vaxxers live in an online bubble this scientist wants to burst | Sydney Morning Herald
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