Facebook gets around to deleting anti-vaxx groups as others volunteer to deprogram them
Shedding Facebook becomes more necessary as awareness of disinformation and propaganda effects forces editorial action by Facebook. The problem is that ad revenue can and has come from malign forces beyond the usual influence operations of capitalism. This comes as its Oversight Board asks more questions about Facebook’s role in the 1/6 insurrection.
Trumpism and its allies has used that intersection in the platform to lie repeatedly about public policy and public health. Divisions in families have been exploited internationally for a much wider range of purposes. Volunteers are trying at a much smaller scale to de-program the cult-like commitment to anti-vaxx disinformation.
In a policy shift, Facebook is now removing groups and pages that discourage people from getting vaccines. As social media giants grapple with the anti-vaccine movement, Specialist disinformation reporter Marianna Spring meets the everyday citizens battling conspiracy theories in their spare time.
The banner image shows a Photoshopped picture of Bill Gates with a crazed expression holding a needle decorated with a skull and crossbones. It looks like a Facebook group promoting anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.
But this group actually has very different intentions.
Richard is a builder, a trainee psychologist – and one half of the duo behind the decoy group. He says he aims not to spread bad information but rather to help people attracted to conspiracy theories.
His friend Dave (not his real name; we've agreed to give him a pseudonym because he fears abuse from anti-vaccine activists) believed in conspiracy theories for the best part of 20 years.
“If I was to actually create a group saying, 'I'm going to re-educate you'… then I'm not going to get any takers,” he says.
“So I have to do it in a stealth way, which is a bit underhanded, I suppose. But the intentions are good.”
The group's name references Bill Gates and completely unfounded conspiracy theories that the Microsoft founder is plotting to kill millions of people and control them with implanted microchips. And once people are drawn in, the two moderators try to reason with them, to bring them back to reality.
And as if bamboo weren’t the only material obsessed about…
Amateur sleuths are racking up page views by staking out hardware stores and filming stack of lumber in the latest online conspiracy theory.
Lumber prices have tripled as demand for housing has jumped and the pandemic throttled production, but lumber-shortage truthers are recording videos of wood just as coronavirus skeptics filmed half-full hospital parking lots last year in an effort to prove the pandemic was a hoax, reported The Daily Beast.