UNICEF Surveils Alt Vaccine Info Sites Including GreenMedInfo.com, Partners with Merck

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A newly fashioned UNICEF working paper tracking “the rise of online anti-vaccination sentiments in Central and Eastern Europe” purports to “provide evidence that parents are actively tapping into social media networks to decide whether to immunize their children.”

The report opens with the Mark Twain quote: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes,” followed by the qualification: “Mark Twain’s quote is more relevant than ever in times of online communication, where information or misinformation, bundled in bits and bytes, streams around the earth within seconds.”

The list of ‘anti-vaccine influencers’ shaping the online conversation include Vactruth.com, GreenMedInfo.com, The Refusers, Mercola.com, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, and Naturalnews.com.

UNICEF’s opening reference to the “lie” spread by the above-mentioned web-based organizations indicates that while the document purports to be analytical, it has proscriptive and defamatory undertones.

UNICEF’s stance is all the more surprising considering that GreenMedinfo.com, for instance, aggregates, disseminates and provides open access to peer-reviewed research on vaccine adverse effects and safety concerns extracted directly from the US National Library of Medicine. [see dataset here: vaccine research] Were this highly credible source of biomedical data to be classified as corrupt, the entire epistemological justification for the global vaccine-industry, and its supposed ‘evidence-based’ criteria for determining safety and effectiveness, would also be corrupted.

The paper was developed jointly by UNICEF Social and Civic Media Section and UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS, and details “key language and arguments” used by alternative, social-media driven sources of vaccine information.  They described their method as follows:

“Researchers have selected social media channels, languages and formulated key word strings for online searches from 1 May till 30 June 2012.  Messages from over 22,300 participants using English, Russian, Romanian and Polish were monitored by volume (using mentions, views, postings), by channels through which users exchange content, by engagement (how users respond, like, share) and by sentiment analysis to detect positive and negative attitudes.”

Their main findings are reported:

• In all four languages, blogs are the most frequently used channel followed by Facebook. Twitter is the second largest channel in Russian.

• Most of the interactions are taking place in forums. While female audiences tend to focus on issues such as developmental disabilities, chemical and toxins, and side effects; men focus on arguments around conspiracy theories and religious/ethical beliefs. Participants discussing anti-vaccination sentiments are 56 % female and 44 % male.
• During the observed time period, more messages in English are recorded using key words stemming from conspiracy theories, distrusts against governments and pharmaceutical industry. Religious and ethical beliefs, distrust against U.S. and western governments drive the Russian language discussions.
• Anti-vaccination opinion leaders in the online world show varying characteristics. Some have no college education while others are in the medical field (such as nurses). Often they appear well educated in alternative medicine and subscribe to social channels of homeopaths and alternative medicine advocates.

UNICEF concludes: “The study reveals the urgent need to invest further in analyzing vaccine hesitancy, and immunization partners to develop joint strategies to tackle with this trend.

The report also makes the following recommendations

 “International agencies and other partners will need to combine forces and support governments to reverse this counterproductive trend and develop common strategies to promote immunization, as one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions known in the world."

While this report appears to have the objectivity and credibility long associated with world governmental health agencies, UNICEF does little to hide its willingness to partner with corporations who may have a vested interest in discrediting valid information about the unintended, adverse health effects of vaccines and/or their lack of effectiveness, such as manufacturers of vaccines themselves. They even advertise their willingness to support national- and multi-national corporation’s “cause-marketing initiatives.”

As an example of UNICEF’s obvious lack of objectivity, in June of this year, they partnered with one of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers, Merck & Co., pledging $500 million “to decrease maternal mortality, HIV and tuberculosis prevalence in South Africa.” President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Caryl Stern was quoted in a June 2012 Vaccine New Daily article as saying, “Merck is a valued partner that is helping to bring us closer to a day when ZERO children die of preventable causes.”[1] Merck, while being considered by UNICEF as a “valuable partner” can hardly be claimed as a credible source of information on the safety and effective of its products, as exemplified by the 2011 decision by the U.S. Justice Department that Merck would be forced to pay $950 million to resolve criminal charges and federal civil claims associated with the fraudulent marketing of its deadly drug Vioxx.  This is only the tip of the iceberg of Merck’s legal problems. Learn more here

Another organization UNICEF has partnered with and accepted substantial financial contributions from is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who has actively supported the online surveillance of so-called “anti-vaccine” groups, as we documented in an Aug. 29th, 2012, report: “Gates Foundation Funds Surveillance of Anti-Vaccine Groups”:

[A]$100K grant was recently disbursed to Seth C. Kalichman, professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, for "Establishing an Anti-Vaccine Surveillance and Alert System," which intends to "establish an internet-based global monitoring and rapid alert system for finding, analyzing, and counteracting misinformation communication campaigns regarding vaccines to support global immunization efforts."

Embed:  <iframe src="http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/19307164" width="479" height="511" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" style="border:1px solid #CCC;border-width:1px 1px 0;margin-bottom:5px" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen> </iframe> <div style="margin-bottom:5px"> <strong> <a href="https://www.slideshare.net/unicefceecis/tracking-anti-vaccinesentimentineasterneuropeansocialmedianetworks" title="Tracking anti vaccine-sentiment in Eastern European social media networks" target="_blank">Tracking anti vaccine-sentiment in Eastern European social media networks</a> </strong> from <strong><a href="http://www.slideshare.net/unicefceecis" target="_blank">UNICEF CEECIS</a></strong> </div>

Ultimately, UNICEF’s new report is more than an objective analysis of so-called “anti-vaccine” organizations, but a concerning bit of propaganda aimed at dissuaded the millions who visit alternative health sites daily from obtaining information that was not underwritten and/or ghostwritten by the very industries who stand to gain most by hiding the well-known adverse health effects of their products, and who have managed to transform many governmental health agencies – and we can see, even global ones -- into their cheerleading, marketing, liability protection and now surveillance arms.


Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.
Sayer Ji
Founder of GreenMedInfo.com

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