From the Abstract: "The spread of fake news and misinformation on social media is blamed to be one of the main causes of vaccine hesitancy, one of the ten threats to global health according to World Health Organization. This paper studies the effect of diffusion of fake news on immunization rates in Italy by exploiting a quasi-experiment occurred in 2012, when the Court of Rimini officially recognized a causal link between MMR [measles‐mumps‐rubella] vaccine and autism and awarded injury compensation. To this end, we exploit 'virality' of fake news following the 2012 Italian Court's ruling along with the intensity in the exposure to non-traditional media driven by regional infrastructural differences in Internet broadband coverage. Using a Difference-in-Difference (DiD) regression on regional panel data, we show that the spread of fake news caused a drop in children immunization rates for all types of vaccines."
WP 19/03; Working Paper 19/03
University of York
University of York: https://www.york.ac.uk/