Anti-vaccination groups still crowdfunding on Facebook despite crackdown

  
Via:  perrie-halpern  •  one month ago  •  30 comments

Anti-vaccination groups still crowdfunding on Facebook despite crackdown
At least $27,000 has been raised on Facebook in the last six months for anti-vaccination efforts.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


By   Brandy Zadrozny


Activists planning to line California roadways with anti-vaccination billboards full of misinformation are paying for them through Facebook fundraisers, despite a platform-wide crackdown on such campaigns.

According to organizers, the billboards will feature the faces of two children whose parents claim were killed by vaccines, though the claims are   contrary to medical evidence . Catelin Clobes, the mother of one of the pictured children, raised $16,304 for the campaign through 491 Facebook users and says the funds have paid for billboards in Modesto, Sacramento and Merced, the first of which is set to go up this month.

The billboards will include the website address for the Informed Consent Action Network, the nation’s best-funded anti-vaccination group. Del Bigtree, the former daytime television producer who leads the group, told NBC News he was unaware of the campaign.

Clobes’ fundraiser is one of dozens on Facebook that have raised money recently for anti-vaccination campaigns and nonprofits, despite the company’s announcement in April of a restriction on vaccine misinformation fundraising. At least $27,000 has been raised on Facebook in the last six months for such efforts.

Recent campaigns have funded billboards and bus signs, organized   anti-vaccination events   and   paid for   the maintenance of what’s known as the “Vaxxed Bus,” an RV emblazoned with the title of an anti-vaccination documentary that prominent anti-vaccination activists used   to travel on a nationwide tour .

The fundraisers underscore the challenge of content moderation on Facebook’s massive scale, where hundreds of millions of people post billions of times each week. While Facebook’s crackdown halted fundraising for the biggest anti-vaccination groups on the platform, smaller groups and individual fundraisers have fallen through the cracks, NBC News found.

Facebook responded to questions from NBC News about several active anti-vaccination campaigns by closing one fundraiser, but many remain.

"We partner with leading public health organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote in an email to NBC News. “If these vaccine hoaxes appear on Facebook, we will take action against them, including the removal of access to our fundraising tools."

Public health officials say the science on vaccines is clear: They are both safe and essential to protecting the health of vulnerable populations, including infants and the elderly. The ideas promoted by anti-vaccination groups — which rely on pseudoscience and conspiracy theories about the government and pharmaceutical companies — are false.

The current anti-vaccination movement was built on Facebook and other social media platforms, as well as crowdfunding sites, which spread their message and financed their various campaigns. But in recent months — amid rising concern over vaccine hesitancy and the   worst measles outbreak in decades   — the platforms that amplified and funded a conspiracy movement have taken steps to muzzle it.

Following similar decisions by Pinterest and YouTube, Facebook announced in March that it would limit the reach of anti-vaccination content, no longer serve up anti-vaccination groups and pages in search results and the recommendations bar, and stop accepting ad buys from users and groups that spread vaccine misinformation. Then, in April, after GoFundMe and Indiegogo both banned anti-vaccine campaigns, Facebook widened   its anti-vaccination restrictions   to include fundraising.

Facebook soon removed the largest anti-vaccination groups from its list of nonprofits eligible to receive fundraising donations. In 2018, prominent anti-vaccination activist Robert Kennedy’s Children's Health Defense fund raised $30,000 on the platform, and a month before Facebook’s announcement, activist Brandy Vaughan   raised more   than $8,000 for a billboard campaign from her anti-vaccination group, the Council for Vaccine Safety. Today, both groups are no longer listed among Facebook’s eligible nonprofits.

The donation pages for other anti-vaccination groups that once raised funds through Facebook, including Bigtree’s Informed Consent Action Network and Physicians for Informed Consent,   currently read , “This content is no longer available.”

While the largest anti-vaccination groups have been effectively cut off, smaller individual activists who make up the movement have responded with creative workarounds. Many have continued to host fundraisers through the platform, concealing the nature of their campaign to evade Facebook’s enforcement, swapping the word “vaccines” for terms like “medical freedom” or “informed choice.” Other groups, including National Vaccine Information Center, the country’s oldest anti-vaccination nonprofit with more than 218,000 Facebook “likes,” have used outside services that manipulate Facebook’s layout to include custom donation tabs on their page.

“The harder platforms go with bans, the harder users will go to circumvent those bans,” said Ysabel Gerrard, a lecturer at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Sociological Studies, who researches content moderation and sits on Facebook's Suicide and Self-Injury Advisory Board.

Evading moderators “becomes a pleasurable cat-and-mouse game,” Gerrard said. “Communications become more insular and more niche, and you add a new level of pleasure when you ban something.”

“The people who are really hardcore into a community will evade bans,” Gerrard added. “But moderating hopefully restricts new people from finding the community.”

Six personal fundraisers on Facebook are currently raising money for First Freedoms, a nonprofit led by the author of a prominent anti-vaccination book that falsely alleges vaccines are dangerous and the CDC has conspired with pharmaceutical companies and the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep that information from the public.

First Freedoms has raised thousands of dollars on the platform in recent months for a campaign to keep   religious exemptions to vaccines   intact in New York State. Its page is loaded with videos that push vaccine conspiracies, including that the CDC over-hypes measles outbreaks to scare the public and that New York’s exemption legislation is fueled by an “unholy alliance between the pharmaceutical industry and government.”

The fundraiser that Facebook closed after NBC News’ questions was on behalf of the anti-vaccination group Informed Choice Michigan, which was using Facebook to fund an upcoming event. “The V word was never even used in any of the posts we made to the fundraiser!” the page’s administrator wrote. “Censorship is real people!”

In an email to NBC News, Facebook said the fundraiser violated policies unrelated to vaccines.


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Perrie Halpern R.A.
1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.    one month ago

This is a question of freedom of speech. Do anti vaccers have the right to raise money using social media even if their mission is actually a danger to the public welfare?

Is this like screaming fire in a movie theater?

All views welcomed.

 
 
 
Gordy327
1.1  Gordy327  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    one month ago

Social media can shut them down if they choose. If they dont, they might be complicit in promoting stupidity and health dangers to the public.

Antivaccers are a danger to others, especially those ignorant and/or gullible enough to buy into their nonsense.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.1.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Gordy327 @1.1    one month ago
Antivaccers are a danger to others, especially those ignorant and/or gullible enough to buy into their nonsense.

I have to agree with you about them being a danger and maybe instead of culling our freedom of speech, we should just go back to quarenteens?

 
 
 
Gordy327
1.1.2  Gordy327  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.1.1    one month ago

We may very well be heading back to that.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.1.3  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Gordy327 @1.1.2    one month ago

Honestly, Gordy, I don't see any other way, without sounding melodramatic.

 
 
 
MUVA
1.2  MUVA  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    one month ago

Yes they have the right to raise money.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.2.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  MUVA @1.2    one month ago

Yes they do. But what about using social media to spread a debunked dangerous idea? Does social media have a responsibility to the larger community they serve? 

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
1.3  sandy-2021492  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    one month ago

They have the right to raise money.  They don't have the right to a platform. 

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
1.3.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  sandy-2021492 @1.3    one month ago
They don't have the right to a platform. 

Indeed.

 
 
 
Jack_TX
1.3.2  Jack_TX  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1.3.1    one month ago
Indeed.

So where does that stop?  

They don't have a right to a platform if they're saying things Facebook/Twitter/Whoeverisnext disagrees with?

Bernie and AOC supporters espouse and proselytize on debunked and dangerous ideas.  Are we shutting them down?

Where is this line, exactly?

 
 
 
warmall
1.4  warmall  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    one month ago

It is the real dilemma. And there is no good answer.I would not forbid them to receive money using various platforms. But useful was well illustrated position of supporters of vaccination. Massive and permanent campaign. High-tech companies such as Facebook must be part of such a campaign. 

 
 
 
Jack_TX
1.5  Jack_TX  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    one month ago
This is a question of freedom of speech. Do anti vaccers have the right to raise money using social media even if their mission is actually a danger to the public welfare?

Is this like screaming fire in a movie theater?

All views welcomed.

I'm a big believer in vaccines.

I'm a big opponent of shutting down speech or only allowing people to say things you agree with.  That includes but is not limited to platforms like Facebook.

I'm also not a big believer in forcing people to do things against their will. 

 
 
 
Kathleen
2  Kathleen    one month ago

They do have the right to raise money. 

I am hoping they raise very little for a dangerous cause that puts them, their children and others at serious health risks.  Very very stupid people.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
2.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Kathleen @2    one month ago

I agree Kathleen. 

 
 
 
SteevieGee
3  SteevieGee    one month ago

So...  In addition to putting their children at risk they want to engage in misinformation and spread fake news to convince other people to put their children at risk?  How does this make sense?

 
 
 
Gordy327
3.1  Gordy327  replied to  SteevieGee @3    one month ago

It doesn't make sense. But then, when have antivaccers ever made sense?

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
3.1.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Gordy327 @3.1    one month ago

They stopped making sense when the doctor who put forth the idea was debunked. 

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
4  Paula Bartholomew    one month ago

They don't want to vaccinate, ok then.  But home school the kids and ban them from any public place where older people and children who are too young to receive the MMR vaccination are.  Their kid's rights end when it puts others ask risk.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
4.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @4    one month ago

I'm with you Paula. Every choice comes with consequences. 

 
 
 
Ender
5  Ender    one month ago

Hope these idiots don't plan on traveling.

Then again, they have probably never left their own town.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
5.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Ender @5    one month ago

Spreading the word is not the only thing they would spread if they traveled.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
5.1.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @5.1    one month ago

But they do travel, and that is the issue and why we are having more outbreaks. 

 
 
 
MrFrost
5.2  MrFrost  replied to  Ender @5    one month ago

I would wager at least some of them think the Earth is flat. 

 
 
 
Gordy327
5.2.1  Gordy327  replied to  MrFrost @5.2    one month ago

I wouldn't be surprised in the least. The level of mentality displayed is the same.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
5.2.2  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Gordy327 @5.2.1    one month ago

Here is where you are wrong. 

Many of them are highly educated people who have bought into this instead of accepting that autism is far more complicated than just receiving a shot. 

My daughter is getting her Ph.D. in cognitive neuropsychology specializing in autism, and it seems that autistic people are missing a vast amount of the connections in their white matter that helps process from different parts of the gray matter. No shot did that.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
5.2.3  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  MrFrost @5.2    one month ago

They probably also think that the world is only 6,000 years old.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
5.2.4  Thrawn 31  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @5.2.3    one month ago

And all original people were white. 

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
5.2.5  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh  replied to  Thrawn 31 @5.2.4    one month ago

All humans came from Africa, no one took a picture so it's not confirmed.

 
 
 
Gordy327
5.2.6  Gordy327  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @5.2.2    one month ago
Many of them are highly educated people who have bought into this instead of accepting that autism is far more complicated than just receiving a shot.

There are probably many who also bought into creationism or a flat earth even if they're highly educated. Education doesn't necessarily mean such individuals are immune from such an absurd mentality, like that shared by anti-vaccers.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
6  Thrawn 31    one month ago

Didn't we round all these people up, drop them on an island, and let them die from preventable illnesses already?

 
 
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