Twitter Is a Megaphone for ‘Sudden Death’ Vaccine Conspiracies

by 24britishtvJan. 17, 2023, 1:20 a.m. 15
-

When British radio DJ Tim Gough passed away suddenly during a broadcast in October 2022, his friend and colleague James Hazell barely had time to mourn before the trolling began. “They didn’t even give him time to go cold. They were straight on it with some vile messages,” Hazell says.

Anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists seized upon Gough’s death, reportedly from a suspected heart attack, and turned his Twitter and Instagram feeds into a storm of disinformation and abuse. “Don’t worry. Safe and very very effective. Perfect for euthanasia also!!!! [sic],” one Twitter user posted. “Death vax,” wrote another. Gough’s accounts, and the Twitter feed of GenX Radio in Suffolk, UK, where he and Hazell worked, were “besieged with abuse,” Hazell says. “They didn’t seem to care about the actual situation of a human dying.”

Gough’s is just one of dozens of sudden deaths and medical emergencies that have been exploited by anti-vaccine campaigners, who claim—without evidence—that Covid shots are to blame. It is a tactic they have used before, but analysis by misinformation experts shows that Twitter, which has stopped policing Covid-19 misinformation and restored thousands of previously banned accounts, has helped supercharge the narrative since Elon Musk took over the platform in October 2022.

“It has opened the floodgates for conspiracy theorizing and misinformation,” says Timothy Graham, a misinformation expert at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia.

Twitter did not respond to WIRED’s request for comment. The company reportedly no longer has a media team.

In recent months, conspiracy theorists have gravitated toward the news of several high-profile deaths, including that of singer Terry Hall, from British ska band The Specials, in December. Illnesses that have been baselessly blamed on the vaccine include a suspected heart attack—in fact, a panic attack— suffered by musician Rod Stewart’s 11-year-old son, and an eye condition that hospitalized singer Tom Fletcher, from the pop group McFly. In January 2023, anti-vaxxers claimed without basis that the death of musician Lisa-Marie Presley, from a suspected heart attack, was due to her having taken the vaccine.

In the US, NFL player Damar Hamlin’s mid-game collapse after a cardiac arrest in January prompted a tsunami of conspiratorial claims attributing his illness to Covid-vaccine-induced myocarditis. While some vaccines have been found to cause inflammation of the heart, experts say cases are rare and usually short-lived, and Covid itself is more likely to cause myocarditis than the vaccine. Studies also indicate that cardiac arrest was a leading cause of unexplained deaths among athletes well before the vaccine rollouts. Tests to determine the cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest are reportedly ongoing.

-

Related Articles

HOT TRENDS

Moses Itauma Blasts Out Opponent 20 Seconds Into Professional Debut

by 24britishtvJan. 29, 2023, 5:20 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Business Clinic: Can I get out of fertiliser order contract?

by 24britishtvJan. 29, 2023, 5:20 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

PREVIEW | Wrexham vs Sheffield United

by 24britishtvJan. 29, 2023, 4 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Google Celebrates Popularity Of Bubble Tea Through Interactive Doodle

by 24britishtvJan. 29, 2023, 4 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

AL-DAKHIL'S PRIDE AT DEBUT

by 24britishtvJan. 29, 2023, 3 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Television frontman Tom Verlaine dies at 73

by 24britishtvJan. 29, 2023, 1 a.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Sabalenka fights back to win first Grand Slam title

by 24britishtvJan. 29, 2023, midnight2
HOT TRENDS

When will the FA Cup fifth-round draw happen?

by 24britishtvJan. 29, 2023, midnight2
HOT TRENDS

Cantwell 'bright spark' as Rangers beat Saints

by 24britishtvJan. 28, 2023, 11 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Bell stars as inspired Bristol City beat West Brom

by 24britishtvJan. 28, 2023, 9 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Son welcomes morale booster as Spurs beat Preston

by 24britishtvJan. 28, 2023, 9 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Girona vs. Barcelona - Football Match Report - January 28, 2023 - ESPN

by 24britishtvJan. 28, 2023, 8:20 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Ipswich & Burnley must replay after goalless draw

by 24britishtvJan. 28, 2023, 7 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Clare Drakeford: Wife of Wales' FM Mark Drakeford dies suddenly

by 24britishtvJan. 28, 2023, 7 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

team news from Easter Road

by 24britishtvJan. 28, 2023, 7 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Fulham fight back to earn Sunderland replay

by 24britishtvJan. 28, 2023, 7 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Leeds beat Accrington to progress to fifth round

by 24britishtvJan. 28, 2023, 7 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Preston v Tottenham: FA Cup fourth round – live

by 24britishtvJan. 28, 2023, 7 p.m.2
HOT TRENDS

Wednesday and Fleetwood set for FA Cup replay

by 24britishtvJan. 28, 2023, 6 p.m.2