Facebook Icon Youtube Icon Twitter Icon Flickr Icon Vimeo Icon RSS Icon Itunes Icon Pinterest Icon

The Honorable James R. Clapper to Address University of Maryland's 2019 Winter Graduates

October 22, 2019
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, lawsonk@umd.edu, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland announced today that James R. Clapper ‘63, former director of national intelligence and author of the best-selling book, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence,” will deliver the university’s commencement address on Dec. 17, 2019. Clapper will address thousands of graduates, family and friends during the ceremony at the XFINITY Center.

“During his half century serving our nation’s security, General Clapper earned a reputation for helping unify the Intelligence Services and speaking truth to power.  He has an important message to share with our graduates and this campus,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “We are delighted to welcome him back to his Alma Mater.”

Clapper served as the fourth director of national intelligence from Aug. 9, 2010, to Jan. 20, 2017. In this position, he led the United States intelligence community and served as the principal intelligence adviser to President Barack Obama.

“It is a true honor to be chosen to speak at the University of Maryland’s commencement,” said Clapper. “I look forward to returning to my alma mater to address the graduating class on their momentous day.” 

Clapper’s career began in 1961, when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and culminated as a lieutenant general in the U.S. Air Force and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. His intelligence-related positions over his 32 years in uniform included assistant chief of staff for intelligence at Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and director of intelligence for three combatant commands: U.S. Forces, Korea; Pacific Command; and Strategic Air Command. He served two combat tours during the Southeast Asia conflict, and flew 73 combat support missions in EC-47s over Laos and Cambodia.

Following his retirement from the armed forces in 1995, Clapper worked for six years as an executive in three companies, focusing on the intelligence community. He also served as a consultant and adviser to Congress and to the departments of Defense and Energy, and as a member of a variety of government panels, boards, commissions and advisory groups. He was a senior member of the Downing Assessment Task Force, which investigated the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, and vice chairman of a commission chaired by former Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia on homeland security, and he served on the National Security Agency Advisory Board.

Clapper returned to the government two days after 9/11 as the first civilian director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. He served in this capacity for almost five years, transforming it into the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, as it is called today.

Prior to becoming director of national intelligence, Clapper served for over three years in two administrations as undersecretary of defense for intelligence, where he was the principal staff assistant and adviser to the secretary and deputy secretary on intelligence, counterintelligence and security matters. He was also director of defense intelligence for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Clapper earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in political science from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and an honorary doctorate in strategic intelligence from the then-Joint Military Intelligence College.

He has been honored with three National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medals, two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Coast Guard’s Distinguished Public Service Award, three Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Awards, the presidentially conferred National Security Medal, and many other U.S. civilian and military, and foreign government awards and decorations.

###

About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures $570 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.

UMD Team Again Wins National Affordable Housing Design Competition

April 22, 2019
Contacts: 

Maria Day-Marshall  301-405-6795, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – For the second year in a row, a team of graduate students from the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation has won the Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). UMD teams finished first last year and second in 2016, their only two previous entries in the 6-year-old competition.

This year the University of Maryland team took first place and the $20,000 top prize with its design for Brooklyn Bend, a mixed-use housing and retail development for low- and moderate-income residents located along San Antonio’s Riverwalk. Results were announced Wednesday. Defending champion Maryland beat out more than 70 other teams, including the other three finalists, second place University of California, Berkeley, and runners-up Yale University and Virginia Tech.

Judges cited the team’s well-developed financial package and understanding of the concepts behind the proposal, and commended the project for having the highest population density among the four finalists. The design, which fronts the San Antonio River, emphasizes energy efficiency, water pollution control and promotion of healthy lifestyles.

Instead of a layout that included just one or two large buildings, the team designed a village-like development with a variety of housing unit designs and sizes to meet a wide range of needs, said Kyle Huck (dual master’s degree program in architecture and real estate development).

“All the proposals were unique in their own ways, but I think what set ours apart was that we really tried to use the site to its highest and best use,” he said, “and not just meet the requirements but to use the site as appropriately as possible to create a proposal that was more dense, which results in a greater amount of affordable housing.”

“We have a lot of dual degrees on our team,” said Cassandra Huntington (dual master’s degree program in architecture and real estate development). “The fact that we have the real estate development degree in addition to the architecture degree gives us a leg up on most of the competition, because we have a better understanding of both the design and the finance sides.”

In addition to graduate students Huck and Huntington, other members of the team are:  Lauren Stamm (master’s degree program in community planning); Andrew Mazer (master’s degree program in architecture); and Nyasha Mandima (master’s degree program in real estate development). The team’s advisors are Maria Day-Marshall, director of UMD’s Real Estate Development Program. and Rob McClennan, senior project manager, Bonstra | Haresign Architects, AIA, and UMD adjunct professor.

Donald Linebaugh, interim dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, said the Maryland team's design demonstrated the strengths of the school's interdisciplinary approach.

"Their winning submission was a thoughtful and nuanced response to a challenging site along San Antonio's Riverwalk," said Donald Linebaugh, interim dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. "They drew on their strengths in design, planning, and real estate finance to craft a project that put people and community first, activating the site and delivering a safe, affordable, and beautiful housing solution."

"With 12 dual degree programs in our School," explained Linebaugh, "MAPP+D is a national leader in interdisciplinary graduate education. And the students' innovative winning submission, clearly demonstrates the strengths of our interdisciplinary approach to the built environment."  

The San Antonio Housing Authority board, which is looking to redevelop the site, will review the winning proposal in coming months.

According to HUD, “the need for quality, affordable housing has never been greater,” and its affordable housing competition is intended to “advance the design and production of livable and sustainable housing for low- and moderate-income people through research and innovation.”

 

“When it comes to creating innovative affordable housing, HUD does not do this work alone,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “Congratulations to the University of Maryland and all of our finalists, for their consciousness stream of good ideas that increases housing opportunity for Americans with modest incomes.”

University of Maryland Statement Against Hate and Bias

November 5, 2017
Contacts: 

 Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

 
Statement Against Hate and Bias 
Joel Seligman, AVP for Communications and Marketing - November 5, 2017
 

UMD sincerely regrets the overwhelming misunderstanding resulting in the #UMDNotAHome social media conversation. The statements on social media connected to this hashtag do not reflect the positions of the university or our leaders' mutual commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus and across our nation.

To put it plainly, the UMD administration stands against hate and bias in all of its forms and wants every Terp to feel welcome, safe and at home at the University of Maryland. 

In recent months, there have been instances of intentional provocation by hateful, far-right groups spreading targeted messages that the administration finds despicable. These outside agitators want to divide our campus community into factions that are in conflict with one another from within UMD, rather than see our campus stand together in opposition to the broader forces of hate, white supremacy, anti-immigrant xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and anti-semitism. 

It is understandable that some members of our community are also disturbed by remarks by university officials, even when the comments are quoted entirely out of context and in a manner that misrepresents the meaning. UMD has seen an example of one of our longtime colleagues unfairly criticized for her efforts to provide legal advice to the University Senate Campus Affairs Committee literally at the same time she is working to advance the cause of inclusion.

The administration encourages all members of our community to work together—students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni—to increase respect, inclusiveness, and cohesiveness on our campus. A comprehensive list of efforts underway by UMD administration is available at umd.edu/umdreflects 

 

 

UMD Named a 2017 Best College by MONEY Magazine

July 12, 2017
Contacts: 

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md.  The University of Maryland ranked No. 11 among public universities according to MONEY Magazine’s 2017 list of Best Colleges. UMD ranked No. 20 overall among U.S. institutions. 

To calculate rankings, MONEY assessed more than 700 colleges in the U.S. based on three equally-weighted categories, including educational quality, affordability and alumni success. MONEY measured 27 factors within these categories covering areas such as instructor quality, measuring the study-to-faculty ratio, affordability for low-income students and value-added earnings, which measures if the school is launching students to better paying jobs. 

Earlier this year, UMD was also ranked a Best Value College by ForbesPrinceton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

UMD Capitol Hill Forum Addresses Health Disparities Research & Action for Equity

September 23, 2016
Contacts: 

Contacts: Elise Carbonaro, 301-405-6501

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, in collaboration with Rep. John P. Sarbanes and the Big Ten Academic Alliance, recently convened more than 100 people for a Research on the Hill forum focused on strategies to achieve health equity at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Moderated by Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D., professor and director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity in the UMD School of Public Health, the panel discussion engaged experts from academia, federal health agencies and the private business sector in a candid conversation about how to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities among vulnerable populations.

“Our exploratory research holds the solutions to many of the most challenging problems of our day,” said UMD Vice President and Chief Research Officer Patrick G. O’Shea, Ph.D. “As a university, it is our mission to create and understand knowledge to develop better ways to house and heal and fuel and feed our people in advanced societies that are just, secure, and free. Achieving health equity touches on the ‘heal’ aspect of that mission.”

The topics ranged from the progress that has been made in access to medical care as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to challenges that still remain in improving quality of care and in making the medical care system incorporate public health and address the social determinants of health that prevent people from acting health promotion and disease prevention recommendations. 

“The state of Maryland has embraced the ACA and there is clear evidence that the new incentives are indeed moving hospital systems away from a fee-for-service business model to one that rewards quality care and positive health outcomes over the volume of procedures,” said Thomas. “While the transition is not perfect, our state is a national leader for what the future of health care will look like.”

Panel members shared examples of effective and innovative community-based health interventions and public-private partnerships that are making a difference through culturally-tailored health promotion and disease prevention services, and highlighted the emergence of social determinants of health such as poverty, discrimination and residential segregation as factors that must be overcome.

 “I’m convinced that if you address racial and ethnic disparities with respect to the delivery of health care and health care coverage in this country, you will build the best health care system we can possibly have because diversity is our country’s hallmark,” said Congressman Sarbanes, who, as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been a tireless advocate for improving healthcare quality and addressing health disparities.
 
To achieve health equity, researchers, policymakers, and industry leaders must address broader issues beyond the traditional biomedical model and build trust between those who control health care delivery system and those who have lost hope in the system, said members of the panel. 

The panelists recommended that health equity be incorporated into all public policies, not just those related to health care, to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. 

Panel members included:

  • Margo Edmunds, Ph.D., Vice President, Evidence Generation and Translation at Academy Health;
  • J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., M.S.C.E., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the Office of Minority Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Julia Huggins, President of Cigna Mid-Atlantic;
  • Kolawole Okuyemi, M.D., MPH, Professor of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Director of the Program in Health Disparities Research and Inaugural Endowed Chair for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota; and
  • Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health.

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, who represents Maryland’s 5th Congressional District and is a distinguished UMD alumnus, also joined the event and emphasized that as an interconnected community, we should all care about health disparities.
 
“It is unacceptable that in the United States, where all are created equal in the words of our Declaration of Independence, that one’s access to healthcare may be higher or lower as a result of race, gender, or income,” said Congressman Hoyer. “Everybody being healthy is of concern to each and every one of us.”
 
He discussed how we must continue to defend the patient protections that Americans are benefiting from thanks to the ACA, such as the no-cost access to preventive services like mammograms and immunizations, as well as remind people of the dramatic increase in the number of people, particularly people of color, who now have health coverage as a result.

The event was held as part of the University of Maryland’s Research on the Hill series, which is aimed at raising awareness of research with great societal significance.

View the conversation at: https://youtu.be/HPedKr0jZLQ

UMD Study Finds Connecting Uninsured Patients to Primary Care Could Reduce ER Use

May 6, 2015
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418
Hillery Tsumba 301-628-3425

Montgomery County, Md. Initiative Could Improve Health, Reduce Costs

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – An intervention to connect low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to a reliable source of primary health care shows promise for reducing avoidable use of hospital emergency departments in Maryland. A University of Maryland School of Public Health study evaluating the results of the intervention was published this week in the May issue of the journal Health Affairs

For twenty years, use of hospital emergency departments has been on the rise in the United States, particularly among low-income patients who face barriers to accessing health care outside of hospitals, including not having an identifiable primary health care provider. Almost half of emergency room visits are considered “avoidable.” The Emergency Department-Primary Care Connect Initiative of the Primary Care Coalition, which ran from 2009 through 2011, linked low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to safety-net health clinics. 

“Our study found that uninsured patients with chronic health issues – such as those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, depression or anxiety – relied less on the emergency department after they were linked to a local health clinic for ongoing care,” says Dr. Karoline Mortensen, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and senior researcher. “Connecting patients to primary care and expanding the availability of these safety-net clinics could reduce emergency department visits and provide better continuity of care for vulnerable populations.”  

Funded by a grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the initiative engaged all five of the hospitals operating in Montgomery County, Maryland at the time, and four safety-net clinics serving low-income patients. Using “patient navigators,” individuals trained to help patients find the care they need and can afford, these hospitals referred more than 10,000 low-income, uninsured and Medicaid patients who visited emergency departments to four local primary care clinics, with the goal of encouraging them to establish an ongoing relationship with the clinic and reduce their reliance on costly emergency department care. 

Two hospitals in Montgomery County who participated in the intervention continued the program after the initial grant period concluded because of the benefits they saw for patients and for reducing emergency department visits and associated costs. These hospitals are currently testing a new version of the intervention specifically deigned to link emergency department patients with behavioral health conditions to appropriate community-based services. 

While hospital administrators and health policy experts throughout the country are recognizing that access to primary care improves continuity of care for patients and reduces avoidable use of emergency departments, the implications of this project are particularly important for hospitals in Maryland, which are now operating under a unique all-payer model for hospital payments. Within this new payment structure, Maryland hospitals will have to meet ambitious spending, quality of care, and population health goals. Reducing avoidable use of emergency departments can help in reaching these goals.

The project provides promise not only for hospitals in Maryland but throughout the nation to improve health care experiences and outcomes for their patients. Shared learning systems were an integral component of the project so participants were learning from each other and sharing best practices throughout the project and that learning has now been documented and can be replicated in other communities.

“This was an incredibly rewarding project to work on,” says Barbara H. Eldridge, Manager of Quality Improvement at the Primary Care Coalition. “We created a learning system that permits us to sustain improved communication between patients and their providers, between hospital discharge planners and community based clinics, and across five hospitals operating in Montgomery County.” The initiative has proven successful in Montgomery County, Maryland and is being replicated in communities in other parts of the country. 

“Linking Uninsured Patients Treated In The Emergency Department To Primary Care Shows Some Promise In Maryland” was written by Theresa Y. Kim, Karoline Mortensen, and Barbara Eldridge and published in the journal Health Affairs

University Launches Dynamic, Interactive Information Website UMD Right Now

December 4, 2012
Contacts: 

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618 crystalb@umd.edu

College Park, Md. – Today, the University of Maryland launched a brand-new multimedia news and information portal, UMD Right Now, which provides members of the media and the public with real-time information on the university and its extended community.

UMD Right Now replaces Newsdesk, which previously served as the university’s news hub and central resource for members of the media. The new site is aimed at reaching broader audiences and allows visitors to keep up with the latest Maryland news and events, view photos and videos and connect with the university across all of its social media platforms.

“We designed UMD Right Now to be a comprehensive, vibrant site where visitors can find new and exciting things happening at Maryland,” said Linda Martin, executive director, Web and New Media Strategies. “Through social media, video, photos and news information, we hope to engage visitors and compel the community to explore all that Maryland has to offer.”

The new website, umdrightnow.umd.edu, contains up-to-date news releases and announcements, facts and figures about the university, a searchable database of faculty and staff experts, information highlighting innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, additional resources for news media and other campus and athletics news.

“UMD RightNow is the place to go to find out all the things happening on and around campus on any given day,” said Crystal Brown, chief communications officer. “This website brings real-time news, events and information right to your fingertips.”

For more information and contact information for the Office of University Communications, please visit umdrightnow.umd.edu.

UMD International Programs Show Resilience and Progress, U.S. State Department ‘Open Doors’ Survey Reports

November 19, 2019
Contacts: 

Sarah Marston smarston@umd.edu 301-405-4312

COLLEGE PARK, MD—The Institute of International Education and the U.S. State Department 2019 Open Doors annual survey of U.S. international exchange activity, released today as part of International Education Week, reported progress in Education Abroad (EA) programs and resistance to declining trends for international student enrollment at the University of Maryland College Park (UMD). UMD ranked #20 nationally for number of students participating in semester-long EA programs, and #32 nationally for number of students studying abroad for academic credit, among both public and private universities.
 
In its analysis of international students in the U.S., the survey found nearly flat overall international enrollment, inching up .05 percent, but reported a 10 percent decline among first-time international students at U.S. institutions in 2018-19 from their peak of over 300,000 in 2015-16. UMD, meanwhile, maintained its #31 ranking among doctorate-granting universities for international students, with more than 6,400. The top five countries of origin for UMD’s international students included China, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Iran.
 
The survey reports a total of 340,751 U.S. students studying abroad for the 2017-2018 academic school year, an increase of 2.6 percent over the previous year. UMD’s EA programs doubled that national rate increase, sending 1,871 students abroad for an increase of 5 percent. 
 
“We are happy to see growth in our EA program enrollment, but we continue to focus our efforts on increasing enrollment to further reflect the diversity of our campus community,” said Leeanne Dunsmore, Director of EA. “We will do this through our commitment to inclusion; seeking to create welcoming, supportive learning environments for students historically underrepresented in study abroad.”
 
Nationally, the U.S. is experiencing a decline in the admission of international students for the third consecutive year. 
 
“It is vital that we build on work to date to ensure that international students and scholars feel very welcome to campus,” said Sue Dougherty, Director of International Student & Scholar Services. “We value them as important members of the UMD community, and their contributions both academically and socially make the university stronger.”   
 
“We’re working collaboratively with schools, colleges and centers across the university to more deeply integrate international programs into curricula,” said Ross Lewin, Associate Vice President of International Affairs. “The goal is to give all students across the university an opportunity to engage globally as part of their UMD experience.”
 
International education programs and exchanges allow students to see the world’s rich diversity and cultural commonalities, helping to develop a global perspective and skills valuable to employers in an increasingly global economy. The National Association for College and Employers’ 2018 Job Outlook reports that more than 30 percent of surveyed employers rate global and multicultural fluency as an essential attribute for college graduates entering the workforce—yet only 20 percent of their incoming employees are proficient in these cultural skills. Research has demonstrated that these attributes and qualities in students are cultivated through study abroad. 
 
“Our future world will be shaped by UMD graduates with the knowledge and skills to collaborate across cultures to address pressing global challenges,” Dunsmore said. “It is vital that we continue to grow students’ access to these global experiences through inclusive practices that enrich their education and future opportunities.” 
 
###

UMD Receives Gold Seal for Excellence in Student Voter Agreement

November 18, 2019
Contacts: 

Zimri Diaz zimri@umd.edu 301-314-8402

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — At the 2019 ALL IN Challenge Awards Ceremony held to recognize colleges and universities committed to increasing college student voting rates, UMD received a gold seal for achieving a student rate between 40% and 49%. A full list of seal awardees can be viewedhere
 
“The university is proud to receive this recognition on behalf of Terps Vote,” said John Zacker, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. “Students, faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to increase voter turnout and civic engagement on campus. This achievement is proof that our students are prepared to meet and solve the nation’s most pressing challenges beginning with going to the polls to make their voices heard."
 
Student participation in elections has increased from the 2014 midterm elections to the recent 2018 midterm election. According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, an initiative of Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, voter turnout at the more than 1,000 institutions participating in the study increased by 21 points from 19% to 40%. UMD’s data reveals that our student population voted at even higher rates, with a 2018 voting rate of 46%.
 
“We are excited to honor UMD with an ALL IN Challenge gold seal in recognition of their intentional efforts to increase democratic engagement and full voter participation,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “More institutions like UMD are changing culture on campus by institutionalizing nonpartisan democratic engagement efforts that are resulting in the incredible student voter turnout rates that we’ve seen across the country.”
 
TheALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a nonpartisan, national initiative recognizing and supporting campuses as they work to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and full student voter participation. The Challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, and make democratic participation a core value on their campus. 
 
More than 560 campuses, enrolling more than 6.2 million students, have joined the Challenge since its launch in summer 2016.
 
###

 

University of Maryland Researchers’ Study of Vaccine-Related Facebook Ads Reveals Ongoing Challenges for Public Health

November 15, 2019
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake kellyb@umd.edu, 301-405-9418

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- In a year that has seen the largest measles outbreak in the US in more than two decades, the role of social media in giving a platform to unscientific anti-vaccine messages and organizations has become a flashpoint.
 
In the first study of public health-related Facebook advertising, newly published in the journal Vaccine, researchers at the University of Maryland, the George Washington University and Johns Hopkins University show that a small group of anti-vaccine ad buyers has successfully leveraged Facebook to reach targeted audiences and that the social media platform’s efforts to improve transparency have actually led to the removal of ads promoting vaccination and communicating scientific findings. 
 
The research calls attention to the threat of social media misinformation as it may contribute to increasing “vaccine hesitancy,” which the World Health Organization ranks among the top threats to global health this year. This increasing reluctance or refusal to vaccinate threatens to reverse the progress made in halting vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, which has seen a 30% increase in cases globally. 
 
The research team, co-led by UMD’s Dr. Sandra C. Quinn, GW’s Dr. David Broniatowski and JHU’s Dr. Mark Dredze, examined more than 500 vaccine-related ads served to Facebook users and archived in Facebook’s Ad Library. This archive, which became available in late 2018, catalogued ad content related to “issues of national importance.” Their findings reveal that the majority of advertisements (54%) which opposed vaccination, were posted by only two groups funded by private individuals, the World Mercury Project and Stop Mandatory Vaccination, and emphasized the purported harms of vaccination. 
 
“The average person might think that this anti-vaccine movement is a grassroots effort led by parents, but what we see on Facebook is that there are a handful of well-connected, powerful people who are responsible for the majority of advertisements. These buyers are more organized than people think,” said Amelia Jamison, a faculty research assistant in the Maryland Center for Health Equity, and the study’s first author. 
 
In contrast, those ads promoting vaccination did not reflect a common or organized theme or funder, and were focused on trying to get people vaccinated against a specific disease in a targeted population. Examples included ads for a local WalMart’s flu vaccine clinic or the Gates Foundation campaign against polio. 
 
Yet, because Facebook categorizes ads about vaccines as “political,” it has led the platform to reject some pro-vaccine messages. “By accepting the framing of vaccine opponents – that vaccination is a political topic, rather than one on which there is widespread public agreement and scientific consensus – Facebook perpetuates the false idea that there is even a debate to be had,” said David Broniatowski, associate professor of engineering management and systems engineering at GW, and principal investigator of the study. “This leads to increased vaccine hesitancy, and ultimately, more epidemics.”
 
Facebook is a pervasive presence in the lives of many people, meaning its decisions about how to handle vaccine messaging have far-reaching and serious consequences, said Sandra Crouse Quinn, professor and chair of the Department of Family Science at UMD’s School of Public Health, and a principal investigator on the study.
 
“In today’s social media world, Facebook looms large as a source of information for many, yet their policies have made it more difficult for users to discern what is legitimate, credible vaccine information. This puts public health officials, with limited staff resources for social media campaigns, at a true disadvantage, just when we need to communicate the urgency of vaccines as a means to protect our children and our families,” said Sandra Crouse Quinn, professor and chair of the Department of Family Science at UMD’s School of Public Health, and principal investigator on the study.
 
The researchers note that the data gathered for this study from Facebook’s Ad Archive was collected in December 2018 and February 2019, before Facebook’s March 2019 announcement of updated advertising policies designed to limit the spread of vaccine-related misinformation. This study provides a baseline to compare how new policy changes may change the reach of ads from anti-vaccine organizations. Those standards, issued in response to the proliferation of anti-vaccination misinformation that coincided with measles outbreaks across the U.S.in early 2019, include that Facebook will block advertisements that include false content about vaccines and disallow advertisers from targeting ads to people “interested in vaccine controversies,” as they were previously able to do. 
 
Yet, the messengers may simply mutate their messages, virus-like, to avoid the tightening standards. “There is a whole set of ads that focus on themes of freedom’ or ‘choice’ and that elude the Facebook rules around vaccine ads,” Broniatowski said.  
 
Jamison says that the research team will continue to study how anti-vaccine arguments are spreading on Facebook and how the company is responding to demands from public health organizations to clean up its act.

“While everyone knows that Facebook can be used to spread misinformation, few people realize the control that advertisers have to target their message,” said Mark Dredze, a John C. Malone associate professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins. “For a few thousand dollars, a small number of anti-vaccine groups can micro-target their message, exploiting vulnerabilities in the health of the public.” 

####

Pages

November 11
 An international team including University of Maryland scientists revealed how genetic variations in a single... Read
November 19
A rise in the number of UMD students studying abroad and steady international student attendance are reported during... Read