The No. 1 posting, however, isn’t from a news organization

The No. 1 posting, however, isn’t from a news organization

Those are the publishers of four of the five most popular Facebook posts of articles about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week. They’re ranked 2 to 5 in total interactions, according to data from the tracking tool CrowdTangle.

The No. 1 posting, however, isn’t from a news organization. Or a government official. Or a public health expert.

The most popular link on Facebook about the Johnson & Johnson news was shared by a conspiracy theorist and self-described “news analyst & hip-hop artist” named An0maly who thinks the pandemic is a cover for government control.

It’s a stark example of what experts warn could be a coming deluge of false or misleading information related to the one-shot vaccine.

In the case of the post by An0maly, a Facebook representative said the company has taken action against previous posts of his that have broken the social media platform’s rules. It broadly removed more than 16 million pieces of content over the past year related to COVID-19 misinformation, but because this specific post did not contain any factually incorrect information, it would stay up.

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Experts call this sort of tactic gray area misinformation and said it can have the same impact on an audience as blatant falsehoods when it’s being received without proper context or by people with preconceived ideas.

Confidence-shaking event

When most Americans went to bed Monday evening, the news about COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. was overwhelmingly positive: The average number of shots administered per day was well over 3 million, leading to rosy predictions that pandemic restrictions could ease in the coming months and some semblance of normalcy could return.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine And Blood Clots: What You Need To Know
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine And Blood Clots: What You Need To Know
But that story shifted on Tuesday after federal health officials recommended a temporary halt in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a handful of reports about blood clots surfaced among the millions who have received the shot.

Many doctors argue this sort of delay should be seen as a positive for vaccine safety: Officials are paying close attention to the reports of side effects and acting quickly to maintain public confidence in the vaccination effort.

But experts who follow Internet trends are bracing for the worst when it comes to how this news is understood and received by the public.


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