Social Media: It’s role in spreading epidemics of mass hysteria

Social Media: It’s role in spreading epidemics of mass hysteria

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Although word of mouth has been implicated in previous MPI cases, the Le Roy case has demonstrated the role that mass media can play in spreading psychogenic symptoms. …. Along with the news reports suggesting that the victims in the case were “faking it”, social media also played a role with recriminations and reports of new symptoms being spread by Facebook and other sources. In the case of Marge Fitzsimmons, the 36-year old nurse who also developed symptoms, almost all of the information she had on what was happening in Le Roy came from Facebook.


Bartholomew stated that there is “potential for a far greater or global episode, unless we quickly understand how social media is, for the first time, acting as the primary vector or agent of spread for conversion disorder.” Though the prospect of “catching” a disease from Facebook or Twitter seems bizarre, the risk may be very real for those believing they are vulnerable.

For many MPI victims coming to terms with their symptoms, the best solution often involves avoiding social media sites completely, at least until the epidemic passes. Though Facebook, Twitter, and phone texting has brought the world together in new ways, the dangers of interconnectedness have become greater as well. The hysteria that once make old Salem Village famous is already resurfacing and may even be more common than ever. …

Source: Can Social Media Spread Epidemics? | Psychology Today Australia

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