If you follow the problem of vaccine denialism (like most skeptics do) and are on social media, you probably saw a cool interactive global map of disease outbreaks this week. It was created by the Council on Foreign Relations – there’s a picture of it here and a link below the fold.
Just in the last week it was posted by many major websites including Kottke.org, Mother Jones, L.A. Times, The Verge, Wired, The Atlantic Wire and even Forbes. And of course all those posts – and the direct link to the map – were being wildly passed around on social media.
Whenever I see something like this going viral, I dig a little bit before I retweet or repost it. Sometimes there’s a better version of the post to link, or the one you saw didn’t attribute it to the original author correctly. I like to make sure I send out the best possible version of something, not just the first one I saw.
When I dug into this vaccine preventable illness map, I found out an interesting thing that almost all of the major media posts missed. Namely, this map is not new. In fact, it’s over two years old – it was released in late October 2011 as this press release indicates.
So why the heck is it going viral now?
I did a little digging and found an interesting thing. Most of the major media posts can be traced back to a single influential blog. And that blog’s post can be traced back to a single Twitter post that set the entire chain in motion.