I wish this post were an April Fools Day joke, but it is not.

Three weeks ago, Skeptical Raptor and I wrote posts describing how a particularly vicious, nasty antivaccine troll named Heather Murray had successfully gamed Facebook reporting algorithms intended to report abuse in order to silence pro-science bloggers. It is, unfortunately, a tactic that I first heard about over two years ago, when antivaccine activists affiliated with what was then called the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) used the same sort of tactics to target pro-science bloggers and activists associated with a group whose purpose was to counter the misinformation spread by the AVN. What often happened was that the automatic reporting algorithm that Facebook uses to screen complaints for true violations of its “community standards” would issue temporary bans in response. Often the various “community standards” violated were unclear and difficult to avoid. For instance, directly mentioning someone by name in a disparaging fashion (or even in a non-disparaging fashion) could, if complained about, result in a ban. Bascially, Facebook’s banning algorithms are the ultimate black box. They might as well be in the center of a black hole, given how impenetrable they are and how difficult it is to shine any light on them.

Obviously, as I’ve explained before, the clear intent of this tactic is to silence pro-vaccine voices on Facebook. These bans can last anywhere from a day to 30 days and basically prevent the person victimized from posting to Facebook for the length of the ban. Once a ban is in place, there is basically no appeal, either. For one thing, it’s damned near impossible to get a hold of an actual human being at Facebook to review and reconsider spurious complaints that trigger such bans. For another thing, the level of complaint that triggers a ban seems to get lower with each successive successful complaint resulting in a ban. This has allowed antivaccine activists to keep hitting their pro-science targets with new bans almost as soon as an existing ban expires, resulting in their being locked out of Facebook for long periods of time and, when they get back on Facebook, being forced to be very careful about what they say and constantly look over their shoulder for potential attacks. If one of your outlets as a pro-science activist is Facebook, these attacks can essentially shut you down by taking you offline intermittently and making you a lot more measured in what you say. It also—intentionally—discourages pro-science activists from calling out the antivaccine misinformation promoted by those who use this tactic.

Everyone knows what a piece of work Meryl Dorey of the AVN is, how nasty she is. When I picture Heather Murray, I think Meryl Dorey amped up by a factor of at least 100 in terms of sheer nastiness, for reasons that you will soon see. First, a brief recap. When last I left this sordid tale of Facebook ineptitude and lack of concern, I enumerated some of the tactics Ms. Murray had used against Ms. Hagood. These included:

  1. Starting an online petition to Ms. Hagood’s employer requesting disciplinary action or termination.
  2. Repeatedly reporting Allison to her school for her online activities, trying to get her fired.
  3. Posting her private address online.
  4. Emailing people she knows.
  5. Creating a web site, the purpose of which is solely to harass Ms. Hagood.
  6. Repeatedly sending her insulting or threatening messages.

I also described the sorts of things Ms. Murray did to get Ms. Hagood banned. For instance, Ms. Murray had Photoshopped an image of Ms. Hagood to make her look like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, complete with the text, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!” When Ms. Hagood posted the image to demonstrate the harassment against her, it was she who wound up in what we now call “Facebook jail,” not Ms. Murray. Although it can’t be proven, it is widely believed in the relevant pro-vaccine Facebook groups that it was almost certainly Ms. Murray who reported her. It wasn’t just Ms. Hagood who was victimized, either. Our favorite dinosaur, Skeptical Raptor, was also targeted, receiving a ban because he was reported for allegedly using racially inflammatory hate speech. In context, even as described on Ms. Murray’s site, he clearly was not, but rather using an example of offensive speech to make a point about how offensive he found something in a movie. Ms. Murray’s dishonesty in having reported that post as Facebook abuse is truly breathtaking. But, then, she has demonstrated herself to be an antivaccine loon and Holocaust denying anti-Semite.

What’s truly irritating about these particular incidents is that Heather Murray herself is a raging antisemite and Holocaust denier, as has been documented elsewhere. I didn’t go much into it last time, but I sure as heck plan to this time. For example, look at this post right here:

Heather Murray's antisemitism

In fact, I was having acid flashbacks reading this post, back to the days when I used to blog regularly about Holocaust denial, because there sure is a heaping helping of Holocaust denial right here. Indeed, the Holocaust denying tropes that Ms. Murray regurgitates were of the very same variety that I used to spend to much time deconstructing and debunking back in my Usenet days on alt.revisionism and early in the history of this very blog. I mean, seriously. Ms. Murray swallows whole the lie that Adolf Hitler himself used to try to justify the invasion of Poland, including his utterly risible claim that he never wanted war. (Coincidentally enough, I’m re-reading William Shirer’s excellent Berlin Diary, which recounts his time as a news correspondent in Nazi Germany from the time shortly after Hitler took power to just before the entry of the US into the war, and in fact just read the section on Hitler’s invasion of Poland, in which Shirer recounted this very lie and how Hitler used it.) I mean, seriously. Believing lies Hitler told for propaganda purposes to get his people fired up to go to war and try to keep Poland’s allies from coming to her aid? It doesn’t get much more Hitler-admiring than that.

Ms. Murray also barfs up the old Holocaust denier canard that the prisoners in the Nazi camps died of typhus and starvation and were not intentionally murdered, as though it wasn’t really horrific that the Nazis rounded up so many people and put them in camps where they were overworked, underfed, and victim to raging epidemics of infectious disease. Yes, many did die of disease and starvation, but there were also homicidal gas chambers. There were also two kinds of camps, work camps and death camps (although Auschwitz-Birkenau was both). In the work camps, prisoners were basically worked to death; in the death camps they were murdered by a variety of means, in particular gas chambers. Of course, no Holocaust denying, Hitler admiring rant is complete without an antisemitic comment about our “Zionist puppet masters.” That’s because Holocaust denial is always rooted in anti-Semitism. There are no Holocaust deniers who are not anti-Semites. At least, if there are, I have not been able to find them, and I have been looking for 18 years now.

So, yes, Ms. Murray, through her own copious statements, regularly reveals herself to be anti-Semitic as hell, and a Holocaust denier, to boot. I’d love to see her come here and spew her bigoted pseudohistory. I guarantee you that, as is the case with antivaccine loons, she can’t repeat a claim that I haven’t heard and analyzed many times before. In any case, I feel the need for a shower after that, so much so that I’ll just leave you this link if you want to see more of her blatant anti-Semitism, other than this last example I’m posting here:

heather-anti-semitism-1

OK, so from my perspective (and that of most people who do not share her bigoted views), Ms. Murray is a despicable, contemptible woman. That isn’t the reason I posted this, although posting this did give me an excuse to emphasize just how nasty she is, something I failed to do last time. (I don’t know what I was thinking then.) Far more important, however, is that she is now explaining how she targets pro-science advocates. A series of comments from her from a super-secret closed Facebook group have found their way into the “wrong” hands (i.e., ours). First up:

HM1

OK, as vile as Ms. Murray is, I’ll give her credit for opening a Facebook profile named Frau Heather as being mildly amusing. Whether that was what let her succeed at shutting down Ms. Hagood and others again, who knows? Unfortunately, now that the beans have been spilled, we now know not to do that sort of thing again. Of course, contrary to Ms. Murray’s claim I never really even tried to figure this one out because “Frau Heather” was not an insult that I recall ever having used to describe her. In fact, I didn’t really use any insults at all; I just described her behavior relatively dispassionately compared to how much her antics annoy me—more so than I have here.

Next up, Ms. Murray explains how mocking memes will get you banned:

HM2

Note that “AVWoS” stands for Antivaccine Wall of Shame.

Now, this is a rule that seems to be very inconsistently applied, because I see mocking memes about people all the time, and I know for a fact that pro-science advocates have complained to Facebook about memes made to mock them. (After all, what was Photoshopping Ms. Hagood’s face onto the Wicked Witch of the West or Photoshopping her to look like Hitler but producing mocking memes?) Notice how much Ms. Murray gloats, though. I know that Ms. Murray will see this post sooner or later—although not on Facebook, at least not posted or commented upon by me, as, even though I have blocked her and every sock puppet of hers that I know about, I am not stupid. So let me just say right here that I take much pleasure in exposing someone whom I consider to be a terrible, vicious woman, her flagrant anti-Semitism, and her antivaccine nonsense, particularly revealing what she’s saying about how she did it. This is information that will allow her targets to take more precautions and at least make her harassing pro-science advocates more difficult, as it makes it possible to take precautions. Besides, I do so love shining lights into dark places, to watch the cockroaches scatter.

Finally, we have this:

HM3

In this post, Ms. Murray spells out exactly what she recommends and brags about how many members of AVWoS she’s gotten banned. At first, I wasn’t sure why she linked to my last post on the subject of antivaccine trolls trying to get defenders of science banned from Facebook. After all, that was a blog post. I never posted it to Facebook—intentionally so, just as I will not post this one to Facebook, either. (Why take the chance?) Of course, then I realized that she thinks she can find the commenters on that post and try to target them for harassment on Facebook too, as no doubt she has been trying to target me, thus far without success. Such are her cowardly techniques.

I must admit, though, that I hadn’t heard of Jeri Keith before. It turns out that she’s another antivaccine loon. She appears to like a lot of all caps. Quelle surprise:

So as a member of several antivax groups…or should I say PROCHOICE GROUPS we are looking to see if you are willing to stand WITH US in DEFENDING OUR RIGHTS TO CHOOSE WHAT IS PUT INTO OUR BODIES. The California Senate right now is trying to FORCE VAX SCHOOL kids and adults vaccines a mile long are in the pipeline for us as well…around 300. We WILLNOT STAND FOR THIS….we are THOUSANDS, and MAYBE TENS OF THOUSANDS STRONG at this point. So we would like to know…are you with us..or against us. We are willing to help make a video with all kinds of intelligent free-thinking people. We have doctors and lawyers, and scientists, and biologists all that DONOT vax and we have the SCIENCE to back it up. What say you all? Please let us know ASAP as we are hoping to be able to POST ON THIS PAGE…..OUR BODY, OUR KIDS BODIES, OUR CHOICE. And we will NOT ELECT any official that is trying to take away our rights to choose.

Yes, Heather Murray and Jeri Keith appear made to be BFFs. They deserve each other.

Of course, as I pointed out last time, antivaccinationists have no science to back up their harmful beliefs, only pseudoscience. All they have are cherry-picked data and biased studies incompetently done by the likes of Andrew Wakefield, Mark and David Geier, Christopher Shaw, and a small cadre of scientists and physicians who somehow fell off the wagon of science into the tar pit of quackery and pseudoscience. If that weren’t the case, perhaps antivaccinationists like Heather Murray wouldn’t attack the person first but instead would do what real science advocates and scientists do: Marshal science, experimentation, and evidence to argue her case instead of trying to harass and suppress speech.

If all that succeeded in doing were to inconvenience a few bloggers and writers like Allison Hagood, Stacy Mintzer Herlihy, our skeptical scaly Raptor friend, or myself, it might not be such a big deal. The problem is that Facebook is such an enormous platform that to be banned from Facebook is to loose access to a major means of getting one’s message out. That’s the intent. In the decade-plus that I’ve been blogging, social media has changed markedly. Before, blogs ruled. Now, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms rule. I still use a blog because it allows me to say things in way more detail than these other platforms do and requires me to write actual essays, but I know that it might not be the most effective platform in general for my message. On the other hand, I know my strengths and weaknesses, and blogs play to my strengths. The point is, though, that antivaccinationists can’t win on science and evidence; so they fall back to despicable and deceptive techniques of the sort used by the Heather Murrays of the world.

Of course, the real problem is that Facebook allows this to happen. Even worse, there is a double standard that’s been demonstrated time and time again, when pro-science advocates have complained about the very same sort of mocking memes, personal attacks, and offensive posts to which pro-science Facebook members are regularly subjected to. Heck, how is it that Ms. Murray’s antisemitic posts don’t “violate Facebook’s community standards”? Now, I’m under no illusion that Facebook is anything other than a company looking to make money, nor am I under any illusion that I am Facebook’s customer. Rather, I am Facebook’s product to be monetized in any way possible, as are Allison Hagood, Stacy Mintzer Herlihy, and the Skeptical Raptor. Yes, those of you who are on Facebook are, too. The very fact that Facebook users who are victimized by these bans complain and clamor to be reinstated shows how Facebook has all the power. Add to that the billion users it has who generate far more complaints than it has employees to deal with, and, unless there is a mass exodus from Facebook because of its automated complaint algorithms or publicity that’s so bad that even Mark Zuckerberg has to take notice, Facebook is unlikely to take any significant action to fix its badly broken abuse reporting system so that it can’t be so easily used to harass and silence. So far, having few dozen users targeted by antivaccine loons doesn’t qualify. Facebook has no compelling reason to fix its broken algorithms.

At the end of the day, I consider people like Heather Murray to be contemptible pathetic people, too cowardly to try to win on the field of ideas. In fact, for that very reason I considered not writing this post. However, given how Ms. Murray gloated about her methods, I figured it was worth discussing her one last time in order to give my readers a heads up.

Finally, I was amused to learn from various sources that Ms. Murray was—shall we say?—not very happy about my previous post and that she has claimed to have tried to contact me. Let me just say right here, right now, that I have received no such contact from Heather, and I checked the spam folders of all my public e-mail accounts, just to make sure I didn’t miss an e-mail from her for that reason. So I’ll make it easy for her now. She is welcome to comment here—if she dares. If she doesn’t, my e-mail address is orac@scienceblogsllc.com. She should be aware, though, that as with any e-mail to the blog, I reserve the right to publish anything she says and respond as I see fit.

Best wishes, Ms. Murray.

Comments

  1. #1 Amethyst
    The Crystal Gem
    April 1, 2016

    So let me get this straight: you set up a profile that uses a nickname, and when people instead refer to you by your full name (which is out there for everyone to see on your original profile) you can then report them and successfully have them banned for “revealing” your full name?

    Seriously, Facebook…

  2. #2 herr doktor bimler
    April 1, 2016

    I never guessed that telling tales to the blackboard monitor could become the cause of so much satisfaction.

  3. #3 Chris Preston
    Australia
    April 1, 2016

    For instance, directly mentioning someone by name in a disparaging fashion could, if complained about, result in a ban.

    In fact, you do not have to write anything disparaging about them. You merely need to mention there name.

    On the subject of opening accounts based on other names, ths would appear to breach Facebook’s terms of use.

  4. #4 Chris Preston
    April 1, 2016

    That would be “their name”

  5. #5 Narad
    April 1, 2016

    Ah, FB, the digital version of the Western Sahara.

  6. #6 Ellie
    April 1, 2016

    I never was on Facebook, and the more I read about what happens there, the more I am persuaded that I made the right decision. The Internet is a wonderful thing, but it also provides a window into the souls of racist, misogynistic, bigoted, and anti Semitic vipers.

  7. #7 Jane
    Sydney
    April 1, 2016

    I know how the algorithm works after being given five time outs by vindictive, gloating fools like HM above.

    A name used multiple times in a thread can be reported under the ‘Harassment’ reporting substructure. You can actually report anyone for harassment for nothing more than using your name. So when HM sat on that nick name for a while, she then went through AVWoS and found every single mention of Frau or Heather and reported them for harassing her. Many of those reports stuck and they were banned.

    Therefore, on Facebook, do not use names unless absolutely necessary. Copy and paste quotes if you need to address someone, but do not use names or malicious reporting can occur.

    Another work around is to not capitalise names; the algorithm tends to miss that. It looks rude, but works.

    I hope that helps explain some of her tactics.

  8. #8 Jane
    Sydney
    April 1, 2016

    @ Chris Preston #3

    It can be any name, using her tactics of creating false accounts, not just yours.

  9. #9 MI Dawn
    April 1, 2016

    The more I read of Ms M (and I wouldn’t put it past her to try to use any comment in here to get someone banned by creating an account with that “name”), the more I know I would dislike her. Sure, I have some friends who are antivaccine loons, and also into energy fields, crystals, essential oils, and so forth (twitch), but they are not vicious. We’ve had several discussions that usually end up with “you believe your thing, I’ll believe mine”.

    But Ms M is vicious. The actions she and her friends use, the lies, the attacks, are all the actions of a bully in the school yard, someone so afraid of their shadow that they have to lash out at any perceived threat that might show them to be in error.

    Like many, I dislike diagnosing others over the internet. So I’ll just say these people are the most entitled, nastiest people I’ve ever seen and I hope they (NOT their children) suffer from a VPD.

  10. #10 GiJoel
    Mobile command bunker
    April 1, 2016

    The white supremacist/anti vax angle is new to me. But it makes sense considering that white power types think there’s a vast global conspiracy that’s preventing people from dropping to their knees and worshiping them. (Instead of their own ineptitude.)

  11. #11 Not a Troll
    April 1, 2016

    She’s a disgusting human being right along with the women who sabatoge children’s beauty pageants and run over kids at Easter egg hunts. However, if she were to get me banned at FB, I would consider it a favor and she could stick her gloating, well, she knows where.

  12. […] explains how she uses Facebook reporting algorithms to harass and silence pro-science bloggers, Respectful Insolence am 1. April […]

  13. #13 Denice Walter
    April 1, 2016

    ” In fact, I was having acid flashbacks..” Orac.

    How much do you want to bet that an anti-vaxxer picks up this and starts a meme that our esteemed host is a drug user, hippie freak or regularly attends raves ( altho’ that’s Molly not acid)?
    All of which are not very likely.

  14. #14 Orac
    April 1, 2016

    Yeah, it’s a figure of speech that I probably shouldn’t use, given that, other than alcohol and caffeine, I’ve been completely drug free my entire life, and that includes even nicotine. 🙂

  15. #15 Delphine
    April 1, 2016

    Does Heather have a job, or ever intend to get a job, one that doesn’t involve impersonating Irma Grese at a skinhead convention? Because, you know, HR, google…

    Orac, if you haven’t read Karski: How One Man Tried To Stop The Holocaust (E. Thomas Wood) I highly recommend that you do. It’s excellent.

  16. #16 JP
    April 1, 2016

    Does Heather have a job, or ever intend to get a job, one that doesn’t involve impersonating Irma Grese at a skinhead convention? Because, you know, HR, google…

    A lot of people use pseudonyms on Facebook for this very reason; for instance, if you teach Hebrew and Yiddish, you might not want everybody to know what your opinions on Netanyahu or Isreal’s increasingly right-wing ethnic nationalism are.

    There was a time when Facebook was trying to force everybody to use their real names, including trans people who used a chosen name rather than their given name, but it almost resulted in a mass exodus to “Ello” (where I have an account, but ended up never using it.) Facebook changed their policy pretty quickly after that.

  17. #17 has
    April 1, 2016

    Honestly, I’ve never understood what draws so many screamingly paranoid “gumbit put spy satellites in my underpants” types to Facebook. After all, FB and Google are only the two largest private surveillance systems in the world.

    OTOH, I don’t quite get why anyone with half a brain would want to be on it either. Stupid internets.

  18. #18 Orac
    April 1, 2016

    Because they’re both incredibly useful in their own ways?

  19. #19 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    April 1, 2016

    Heather Murray is a foul, anti-semitic ditchpig and clearly knows how to game the system. Every blogpost about her should start off that way and give her the Google juice she so richly deserves.

  20. #20 Eric Lund
    April 1, 2016

    @has: There are people who, for whatever reason, want to be in touch with old friends, distant relatives, or high school classmates. Facebook is the best available tool for people in that category, which doesn’t include me. I’ve heard enough anecdotal stories of extreme derp (not just anti-vax nonsense, but also including political extremism, as Orac documents above) to be wary of joining Facebook.

    Then there are the small businesses who use Facebook as a marketing tool. I’m not going to second guess their decision to join–they want customers, and Facebook is a good place to look for them.

    FD: I am not on Facebook. I am on LinkedIn, which is more of a professional than personal site, and has much less derp[1]. I’m also on ResearchGate, which is specifically aimed at people in the scientific research business. The latter two networks met my threshold of “the advantages of having this outweigh the disadvantages of having this.” Facebook has not. Nor has Twitter.

    [1]LinkedIn is not immune to derp. I have seen a post there “challenging” people to name a city that does not contain an E. Such as Washington, Ottawa, Havana, Nassau, Santo Domingo, Kingston, San Salvador, Bogota, Quito, Lima, Santiago, Paramaribo, Brasilia, La Paz, or Asuncion, just to name national capitals in the Western Hemisphere.

  21. #21 Eric Lund
    April 1, 2016

    give her the Google juice she so richly deserves

    Alas, Google tweaked their ranking algorithm in 2007 to prevent this from working. For about three years prior to that, George W. Bush’s official White House biography was the top result of a Google search for “miserable failure”. Today the top result of that search is a Wikipedia article on Google bombs. So as much as Ms. Murray might deserve such a fate, it would be much harder to pull off.

  22. #22 JP
    April 1, 2016

    There are people who, for whatever reason, want to be in touch with old friends, distant relatives, or high school classmates.

    Not just distant relatives; I keep in touch with cousins and one aunt in particular by means of Facebook. I’m not much of a phone gabber, under normal circumstances, so it works for me.

    I’ve learned to ignore, to a large extent, the “angry Republican” part of my family when they post whiny or angry comments on political articles I share. The funny thing about American politics at this point is that it doesn’t really seem possible to actually change minds to a large extent – people have “chosen a side” and mostly won’t budge – which means I’m mostly preaching to the choir, but whatever.

  23. #23 Allison Hagood
    In and out of FB jail
    April 1, 2016

    @Delphine #15 – she is listed as co-owner of several businesses in CA, but doesn’t appear to work.

    My admin profile (yes, I admit to having more than one profile, FB TOS be damned due to this situation) is back in FB jail on a 30-day ban for a post that was removed and determined to be in violation of their community standards. As you know, FB sends copies of removed posts to people who are in trouble.

    The post that was sent to me WAS BLANK.

    In addition, I have attempted to copy Ms. Murray’s tactics as an experiment. As you can see, she refers to me as A. Hag. I created a fake profile with that name, and reported all comments using that name that I could find on a particular anti-vax group. Precisely ZERO of them were removed.

    Something else is going on.

  24. #24 Orac
    April 1, 2016

    How long has that profile been in existence? Notice how Heather said she created her profile a long time ago and kept it on the down low. Your profile might be too new.

    Ah, well. No doubt our not-so-friendly neighborhood antisemitic antivaxer will try again to get me a “time out” from Facebook. I’m fairly confident that she will fail given that she hasn’t managed to succeed in the three weeks since I posted my last blog post about her abuses.

  25. #25 Allison Hagood
    In and out of FB jail
    April 1, 2016

    @Orac #24 That particular profile is my AVWoS admin one, and has been in existence since the creation of the current AVWoS page, which has been about 3 years.

  26. #26 MI Dawn
    April 1, 2016

    @Allison Hagood: is it possible that because your posts are public, they can be “read” by the ‘bots, while the ones you are trying to report are from a private group which the ‘bots may not be able to read? Just wondering if that’s the difference.

  27. #27 Orac
    April 1, 2016

    I’ve wondered that myself. My Facebook posts are nearly all restricted to my Facebook friends. I rarely, if ever, set my posts to be public. Thus far, Heather has failed to get me banned.

  28. #28 Chris
    April 1, 2016

    Delphine: “Does Heather have a job, or ever intend to get a job, one that doesn’t involve impersonating Irma Grese at a skinhead convention? Because, you know, HR, google…”

    Well, she sure does not seem to make time to parent any children she has, and I feel very sorry any child of her who had special needs.

    I am still parenting a child who his almost thirty years old. There are lots of people involved in trying to make him independent. It would be a death knell if I took the time Ms. Heather spends on Facebook — and worse if the people who are all working hard for him to see that kind of hatefulness.

    Let me just say this: she is not doing the disabled, nor the family of the disabled any favor. (and not just autism, many of us got an earful from someone who was questioning the different levels of IQ between autism and Down Syndrome that qualify for state Developmental Disabilities Admin services last week at a Transition Fair …. and just for the troll, 1588d, over at the “film festival drops Vaxxed” thread — the fair was on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA).

  29. #29 Allison Hagood
    In and out of FB jail
    April 1, 2016

    @MI Dawn #26 No, the posts I am reporting using her tactics are all on a particular public page.

  30. #30 LW
    April 1, 2016

    I have seen a post there “challenging” people to name a city that does not contain an E.

    Is that intentionally stupid? London, Munich, Tokyo, Stockholm. Just off the top of my head. Or closer to home for me, Washington, District of Columbia.

    What a stupid question.

  31. #31 Not a Troll
    April 1, 2016

    @Allison Hagood Perhaps there is strength in numbers and you need more complaints so they don’t get overlooked.

    However, call it the conspiracy theorist in me, I think there is more going on here too. Maybe not political but it could be a personal favor.

  32. #32 rork
    April 1, 2016

    To join Facebook would mean supporting a company I despise. That other media then require you to use a FB login means maybe they haven’t considered their ethics either.

  33. #33 Spectator
    April 1, 2016

    Mr Zukerberg’s book of faces also censors posts which run afoul of the company’s agenda du juor. For example, posting about the German sexual assaults perpetrated by Mulsim migrants often results in the post being removed, and sometimes the poster’s account being blocked.
    Mr. Zukerberg has met with Angela Merkel, whose policies welcome said migrants.

    FB and the like are curious things: They function like a public common space, but they are actually private property. They work assiduously to project a feel-good image of youth-friendly culture, but are actually authoritarian and regressive, always favoring government power over individual expression.

    The founders of these companies are part of the generation who will soon be senators and kings high elected officials.

  34. #34 Spectator
    April 1, 2016

    In place of “government power”, i should have used concentration of power, as while they may kowtow or collude with governments, social media companies are (obviously) private. It’s more the idea that individual speech needs to be controlled by a ‘correct thinking’ authority, rather than what flag that authority sails under.

    Say, if anyone here has our gracious host’s ear, can they advise in favor of enabling comment edits?

  35. #35 Orac
    April 1, 2016

    To join Facebook would mean supporting a company I despise. That other media then require you to use a FB login means maybe they haven’t considered their ethics either.

    So don’t use Facebook. I can’t recall the last time I’ve encountered other media that absolutely require a Facebook login; they nearly always offer their own login or offer Twitter, Disqus, or other options to use. Assuming there are still such media, though, then I guess you just have to weigh your hatred of Facebook against how badly you want to have a login for that media. I’m afraid I’m not particularly sympathetic to this problem.

  36. #36 Orac
    April 1, 2016

    Say, if anyone here has our gracious host’s ear, can they advise in favor of enabling comment edits?

    I have no control over that. Sorry.

  37. #37 Not a Troll
    April 1, 2016

    In #31, I should have referred to it as a personal contact not a personal favor. Once upon a time the business where I worked had to do this with Google (on 2 separate occasions) when their bot shut down our website because their algorithm mistakenly ID us as using a black hat technique.

    Anyway, I find it curious there isn’t more policing of this crowd on FB because Zuckerberg has also set them off.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/01/11/mark-zuckerberg-angers-anti-vaxxers-with-photo-of-baby-at-doctors-office-getting-vaccinations/

  38. #38 Shelix
    April 1, 2016

    Long time reader, possibly first time poster.

    I’m adding to the comments simply to give her more targets. You mentioned she’s perhaps trying to identify commenters on pieces she finds particularly offensive. So, here i am! Find me on FB if you can! Spend precious energy chasing your tail and hopefully leaving alone other hardworking, honest, ethical people who value truth!

    (I’m a bit naive, but you never know. Maybe it’ll work.)

  39. #39 Dan Welch
    April 1, 2016

    It’s worth noting that Facebook policy actually prohibits opening an account with something other than your legal name. Her “Frau Heather” account is actually all by itself in violation. They don’t typically enforce this unless someone complains.

  40. #40 JeffM
    April 1, 2016

    I have a close friend who works at FB…I’ll ask him about the banning process and report back.

  41. #41 Carrie-Anne
    Planet Earth
    April 1, 2016

    I can’t I believe how beyond immature, vile, smug, and hateful this woman is. She’s like an overgrown schoolyard bully, gloating about how badly she abused someone and how she’ll do it all over again just to be mean and childish. She clearly needs deep psychological counseling, and a long, long, long break away from virtual reality.

  42. #42 Helianthus
    April 1, 2016

    @ spectator

    FB and the like are curious things: They function like a public common space, but they are actually private property.

    And vice-versa. Regularly, some blogger – here or elsewhere – would start a thread around a comment posted on Facebook by someone with 2000+ friends, only for the comment’s author or on of his/her numerous followers to show up and complain that the comment was part of a private discussion.

  43. #43 Orac
    April 1, 2016

    I have a close friend who works at FB…I’ll ask him about the banning process and report back.

    Unless he has something to do with the banning algorithm, he probably won’t be able to find out much, but it never hurts to ask…

  44. #44 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    April 1, 2016

    herr doktor bimler:

    I never guessed that telling tales to the blackboard monitor could become the cause of so much satisfaction.

    Pity she wasn’t trying this crap with Blackboard Monitor Vimes of Ankh-Morpork. 😉 He’d never put up with it.

    LW:

    I have seen a post there “challenging” people to name a city that does not contain an E.

    Is that intentionally stupid? London, Munich, Tokyo, Stockholm. Just off the top of my head. Or closer to home for me, Washington, District of Columbia.

    What a stupid question.

    Of course it’s a stupid question. It’s really a marketing tool. If you respond, depending on your Facebook security settings (which, incidentally, can change without your knowledge if Facebook updates their security policies, so check them often), it may allow them some access to your profile. More importantly, your response will show up in your own feed, inspiring some of your friends to try it, which will get *them* linked in as well. It’s basically a way to gain a list of Facebook users to advertise to. It’s rather clever. The question is extremely easy, so anyone can answer. Clever people may look at it, think “how ridiculously stupid” and reply to that effect. Less clever people will think “oh, I know one!” and reply with that, feeling pleased that they did better than the quiz expected them to. But truthfully, it doesn’t matter what you post as long as you reply to it. That’s all they really want.

    Best thing is just to ignore those little “quizzes”.

  45. #45 rork
    April 1, 2016

    “So don’t use Facebook. I can’t recall the last time I’ve encountered other media that absolutely require a Facebook login; they nearly always offer their own login or offer Twitter, Disqus, or other options to use. Assuming there are still such media, though, then I guess you just have to weigh your hatred of Facebook against how badly you want to have a login for that media. I’m afraid I’m not particularly sympathetic to this problem.”

    I’m not asking for sympathy, since there’s no point in that. I’m lobbying the readers.
    As for their being almost always another login, I looked at both the Detroit Free Press, and the Detroit News – both facebook only I think.

  46. #46 Narad
    April 1, 2016

    I see that Heather has her very own page at Encyclopedia Dramatica.

  47. #47 Orac
    April 1, 2016

    She also has her very own website:

    http://www.avwos.com

    Man, how ugly and poorly designed can a website be?

  48. #48 Narad
    April 1, 2016

    Monique’s petition is also hilarious:

    Secondly, since this petition was originated, it has been manipulated with malware and circulated to promote harm with all sorts of viruses attached. There have been many confirmed individuals that were compromised with this hacking method. Allison Hagood and her FB “Anti Vax Wall of Shame” members are relentless to stop me from exposing the truth.

  49. #49 Helianthus
    April 1, 2016

    @ Calli Arcale / herr doktor bimler:

    Pity she wasn’t trying this crap with Blackboard Monitor Vimes of Ankh-Morpork.

    Ahhh! I wanted to say something like this, but my brain failed to rise to the challenge.
    Madame, you made my day. Or rather, Fabricati diem.

  50. #50 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    April 1, 2016

    Monique’s petition gives frivolous, ineffective internet petitions a bad name.

  51. #51 Eric Lund
    April 1, 2016

    If you respond, depending on your Facebook security settings (which, incidentally, can change without your knowledge if Facebook updates their security policies, so check them often), it may allow them some access to your profile. More importantly, your response will show up in your own feed, inspiring some of your friends to try it, which will get *them* linked in as well. It’s basically a way to gain a list of Facebook users to advertise to.

    As I said above, I saw this marketing gimmick (and I agree that’s the most plausible explanation) on LinkedIn, but I had heard reports of similar things on Facebook. And yes, the reason I saw it is because at least one of my LinkedIn connections replied to this “quiz”. As with Facebook the LinkedIn user is the product–the main difference is that LinkedIn has ways to monetize their user base that are not obviously nefarious (such as offering companies paid access to potential job candidates), while Facebook seems to be purely about the marketing.

  52. #52 Mrs Woo
    April 1, 2016

    She hasn’t targeted me yet. Maybe I am not very obvious. Commenting on this just to give her more research to do. How hard can it be for her to find a former biotech employee?

  53. #53 JP
    April 1, 2016

    Mrs. Woo! Always good to see you here. I hope you and the menagerie and the family are doing well.

  54. #54 Alia
    April 1, 2016

    Let me put it this way – when you’ve spent the first half of your life 5 miles from a former Nazi death camp and the second half in the city that’s been through two uprisings against Nazis and on the way to work you pass like 10 commemorative plaques stating things like “on this site Nazis shot 100 civilians” – well, Holocaust denial makes me very angry indeed.
    Not to mention this little fact that while Poland did have internment camps before WWII, they were for communists and socialists (regardless of their ethnic origin), not Germans. But then again, facts are nothing to these people.

  55. #55 Kate
    London
    April 1, 2016

    A friend of mine was a PR at Facebook here until recently; he told me that you don’t need to get loads of people to complain, as one complaint is sufficient to get something looked at. He couldn’t tell me anything about the banning decisions, though – they were just as impenetrable to him as to the rest of us, though he could get something looked at quickly if necessary.

    On the fake name multiple profiles, I’m pretty sure that’s against the Facebook ToS, so they’re worth reporting just for existing.

  56. #56 jfb
    April 1, 2016

    LW @ 30:

    Those kinds of posts (name a city without an E in the name, give a dog’s name that doesn’t have an A in it, what’s the result of 5 + 5 + 5 x 5 + 5) are nerd snipes designed to collect usernames and other personal info for spam generators. I’ve been suckered by a couple because people on the internet can’t do simple arithmetic, and the SIWOTI reflex is hard to ignore sometimes.

  57. #57 JustaTech
    April 1, 2016

    Not a Troll @37: Chances are 99.99999% that Zuckerberg hasn’t heard anything about it.
    I’m pretty sure that something like this happens in all the vicious areas of Facebook. In order for something to be done about this specific instance it has to come to the attention of internal FB.

  58. #58 Orac
    April 1, 2016

    Clearly you took my comment about Zuckerberg way too literally. Don’t you recognize hyperbole when you see it?

  59. #59 Mary M (mem_somerville)
    April 1, 2016

    I have been noticing a lot of abuse of Disqus flags at places I comment. Regularly I’m seeing all the pro-science voices in the discussion get removed. And again–there’s nobody to take this to.

    For people who wail a lot about free speech, they aren’t really very clear about how it works.

  60. #60 Old Rockin' Dave
    In front of my computer. Where else could I be?
    April 1, 2016

    I am fairly sure that Facebook uses an algorithm that looks at a database of ethnic, racial, etc. insults and only acts when it finds one. I suspect the second level is in some place like Bangalore or Quezon City, staffed by people with a reasonable command of English, but like the algorithm, are lacking the appropriate context . I kind of hope so, since the likely alternative is nauseating.
    I’ve reported a number of comments but only one was taken down, and that only after the second level. Allowed to stand was a suggestion for a new superhero named “Jew Taker”. Same thing for a rant about Jews running the world. Worse is the page called “Jewish Ritual Murder” dedicated to the blood libel. Thousands of people have complained about that one, including members of Congress and the Anti-Defamation League, but it doesn’t “violate our community standards”.
    I shouldn’t be surprised, given that anti-Semitism doesn’t get the same reaction around the world as other kinds of racism. For example, just look at all the anti-Semitic authors whose works are still part of the great literature canon.

  61. #61 Old Rockin' Dave
    April 1, 2016

    A random sample from HeaIThLERs website:
    “For instance in Israel it is illegal to marry a non-Jew as well as gay marriage. Non-Jews that enter Israel as a refugee are imprisoned for 3 years.”
    Those two sentences contain more lies than they do words.
    I wonder if any antivaxxer has had the courage to denounce her for it; they likely wouldn’t fare any better at her hands than vaccine supporters do.

  62. #62 capnkrunch
    April 1, 2016

    Allison Hagood@23

    Something else is going on.

    Cross posting my comment from Skeptical Raptor’s blog. I also want to add “get over yourself” given that I have said the same thing 4 times (I think) now and apparently been ignored every time. The Facebook reporting problem is much bigger than the harassment you personally suffer and there’s no reason other than ego to think Heather Murray has special influence.
    ———-
    Nope. Nope, nope, nope. This is unrealistic and uncomfortably close to stuck backspace key = being hacked. The Facebook reporting algorithms are broken and the problem has been well known since they were implemented. They have been abused for much bigger things such as repressive governments silencing dissent.

    Sorry to say, you are not that special. Your troll is very unlikely to be in a privledged position. She is just one of many who knows how to abuse the system.

    Why does it not work for you? Interesting question and I don’t know the inner workings well enough to answer definitively. I have two thoughts however:

    1. Quantity. Despite Facebook’s protestations quantity seems be a major factor in when action is taken. It seems likely that it’s not just Heather but a number of AV trolls reporting you.

    2. Reason. I suspect the algorithms assess posts differently based on the reason for reports. It’s possible that had you chosen a different reason your reports would have been acted on.

    Remember, you are a sample of one. A couple of your reports weren’t accepted while Heather’s were. We don’t know many reports she submitted. We don’t know how many other accounts duplicated the reports (clearly she has multiple accounts herself).

    What we do know is that this is a system that has been abused from its inception by many people to harass many people. The probability that they all had inside help seems low. The possibility that there is a flaw in the system that they all exploited seems much more realistic.

    We know the reporting alogrithm is automated. The chances that there are even many people at Facebook with the ability to influence internal automated systems seems low. That would be an abject failure of least privledge policy which is IT 101.

    Let’s leave the paranoia to the other side.
    ———-
    Kate@55

    A friend of mine was a PR at Facebook here until recently; he told me that you don’t need to get loads of people to complain, as one complaint is sufficient to get something looked at. He couldn’t tell me anything about the banning decisions, though – they were just as impenetrable to him as to the rest of us, though he could get something looked at quickly if necessary.

    Thanks Kate for providing some confirmation that the average Facebook employee does not have knowledge of or influence over the algorithms.

  63. #63 Allison Hagood
    In and out of FB jail
    April 1, 2016

    #62 yes, I tend to ignore people who are rude for petty and unnecessary reasons.

  64. #64 capnkrunch
    April 1, 2016

    Facebook has no compelling reason to fix its broken algorithms.

    This 100 times. I think I said it in the last thread as well, Facebook is too big and too central in people’s lives for market pressure to be a realistic tool for enacting change. Heck, the reporting algorithms aren’t even the worst thing Facebook has done (remember when they were doing secret research on users withoit consent or any kind of IRB oversight?).

  65. #65 Not a Troll
    April 1, 2016

    @Mary M #59.

    I don’t know how your issue will fly using this method but whenever I’ve had technical problems with reporting other users (or any problem) to Disqus, I start a discussion within Disqus about it. Moderators get right on it when they see that 🙂

  66. #66 Dangerous Bacon
    April 1, 2016

    “Man, how ugly and poorly designed can a website be?”

    Wonder what the http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com guy would do with it.

    The “Quadrazillions Of Health Freedom Fighters” loon’s website already won an award over there.

  67. #67 Spectator
    April 1, 2016

    #54

    In my experience, the people who scream that the the Holocaust didn’t happen also want to finish the job, and will be near the front of the line to do so when the opportunity strikes. They are not harmless eccentrics.

    We take an orderly society for granted, but it can break within days.

  68. #68 Spectator
    April 1, 2016

    re #36

    Aha, mystery solved.

  69. #69 Not a Troll
    April 1, 2016

    Clearly you took my comment about Zuckerberg way too literally.

    Not really. I did a search on the controversy of the antivaccine movement on FB and found that Zuckerberg did a book report on immunizations last year.

    That, and the post about his daughter’s shots, led me to believe it was a pet cause of his. I didn’t expect that he read the 70,000 comments on his recent post but it was in the media enough to think someone would have told him about it if he was deeply interested in the subject. Yet, perhaps it doesn’t go beyond his own personal PSA posts.

  70. #70 Narad
    April 1, 2016

    I don’t know how your issue will fly using this method but whenever I’ve had technical problems with reporting other users (or any problem) to Disqus, I start a discussion within Disqus about it. Moderators get right on it when they see that

    Disqustink proper doesn’t have moderators; there are exactly six things that the mothership will concern itself with. “Gang flagging” isn’t one of them, to the extent that it exists at all.

  71. #71 Narad
    April 1, 2016

    “Man, how ugly and poorly designed can a website be?”

    Wonder what the h[]tp://www.webpagesthatsuck.com guy would do with it.

    The “Quadrazillions Of Health Freedom Fighters” loon’s website already won an award over there.

    As did Patty Bolen (No. 18).

  72. #72 Narad
    April 1, 2016

    A random sample from HeaIThLERs website

    Heh: meta name="keywords" content="Allison Hagood, Dorit, PSYOPS, cyber bully, harassment".

  73. #73 Chris Preston
    April 1, 2016

    I have been noticing a lot of abuse of Disqus flags at places I comment. Regularly I’m seeing all the pro-science voices in the discussion get removed. And again–there’s nobody to take this to.

    The various sites that use Disqus have different ways of dealing with flagged posts. Some automatically delete posts that have been flagged a certain number of times. Certain people take advantage of this. For example, one prolific commenter called Ted Miner has at least a dozen sock puppet accounts on Disqus and uses them to flag posts that he disagrees with. I can expect my posts on some boards to be deleted with a couple of days.

    Somewhat hilariously, one of these boards (which never locks threads) actually locked one thread when the number of comments went from about 1600 to less than 50 within 3 days by people gaming the algorithm. I imagine the moderator got cheesed off by people complaining that their innocuous posts were being deleted.

    I feel a bit sorry for the moderators who check each report when these people turn up on their boards.

  74. #74 Not a Troll
    April 1, 2016

    Vuppe was a Mod when I worked with him. I see he’s now an All-Star. Reads like the same thing to me if you look at some of his comments.

    https://disqus.com/by/kandric/

    Again, I’m not sure how he’d handle your issue. Most likely he’d refer you to the individual website’s Mods who control deleting comments but you can always raise the question with Disqus.

  75. #75 Chris Preston
    April 1, 2016

    The Facebook reporting problem is much bigger than the harassment you personally suffer and there’s no reason other than ego to think Heather Murray has special influence.

    Exactly.

    The most probable reason why Heather Murray is more successful in getting people blocked and posts taken down than you is persistence.

  76. #76 Not a Troll
    April 1, 2016

    Disqus also had the issue of the Upvote bots. It looks like they got a handle on it, but not before some people got banned and some earned over 100,000 upvotes.

  77. #77 Sarah E
    Australia
    April 1, 2016

    As I type this now, I am on a 30 day Facebook ban courtesy of Ms Meryl Dorey of AV(s)N. All because I used her name to counter her on a Facebook post on Prime Minister Turnballs Facebook page on the No Jab No Pay legislation. I did not swear or threaten Ms Dorey in any way. I did however note that she is a person who encourages abuse towards families of children who have died from whooping cough.

    For a person who supposedly upholds ‘free speech’ she certainly moves to stifle her opponents. Free speech indeed.

  78. #78 Chris Preston
    April 1, 2016

    Again, I’m not sure how he’d handle your issue. Most likely he’d refer you to the individual website’s Mods who control deleting comments but you can always raise the question with Disqus.

    Disqus refers all queries about individual sites to the moderator of that site. It only acts on a couple of system wide issues itself (spam and harassment) and on posts on its own discussion boards.

  79. #79 Chris Preston
    April 1, 2016

    Disqus also had the issue of the Upvote bots. It looks like they got a handle on it, but not before some people got banned and some earned over 100,000 upvotes.

    This was largely fixed by requiring logging in prior to upvoting or downvoting a post. Some people get around this by having multiple sock-puppet accounts and use them to upvote all their own posts (see Ted Miner previously mentioned). Frankly, you have be dedicated to go to this amount of trouble.

    I think the Disqus example is just one more demonstration that some people will find ways of gaming the system to remove criticism if that is possible.

  80. #80 Chris Preston
    Australia
    April 1, 2016

    For a person who supposedly upholds ‘free speech’ she certainly moves to stifle her opponents. Free speech indeed.

    Sarah, I don’t know why you are surprised by this. It has always been Meryl Dorey’s way.

  81. #81 herr doktor bimler
    April 1, 2016

    So don’t use Facebook. I can’t recall the last time I’ve encountered other media that absolutely require a Facebook login

    Village Voice, which hosts Roy Edroso’s column,
    http://www.villagevoice.com/authors/roy-edroso-6354670
    demands that commenters log in with the Facebukkake.
    In consequence, the comment threads hardly exist at VV and people go to Roy’s own blog.

  82. #82 Chrissyb
    April 1, 2016

    This is why I don’t participate or engage in the AVOWS page. I lurke. I know that’s not the bravest answer, but FB keeps me connected to my family, friends, my kids school, my school, current events, news, professional organizations and on and on. Facebook is so central these days, I won’t argue wether that’s good or bad it just is. Antivaxers are total loons with no conscious, and I can’t risk being cut off from not just things I want to know, because t things I need to know.

    Has it ever been considered that maybe Heather works for Facebook? Someone has to be behind the algorithms, someone has to be the staff behind the screen (likely hundreds if not thousands of people). Why not her?

  83. #83 Narad
    April 1, 2016

    This is why I don’t participate or engage in the AVOWS page.

    Hell, they banned me, so I can’t even view it if logged in. They’re on their own as far as I’m concerned.

  84. #84 Narad
    April 1, 2016

    Disqus also had the issue of the Upvote bots. It looks like they got a handle on it, but not before some people got banned and some earned over 100,000 upvotes.

    This was largely fixed by requiring logging in prior to upvoting or downvoting a post. Some people get around this by having multiple sock-puppet accounts and use them to upvote all their own posts (see Ted Miner previously mentioned). Frankly, you have be dedicated to go to this amount of trouble.

    It would still actually be quite easy to automate Disqustink voting to an N of the number of public application keys one felt like dredging up.

  85. #85 capnkrunch
    April 1, 2016

    Chrissyb@82

    Has it ever been considered that maybe Heather works for Facebook?

    Unlikely. Your problem is not unique and the likelihood that all reporting abuse is an inside job is small. Remember, reporting has been abused from its inception for things such as repressive governments silencing dissent. There’s no reason to think Heather is special, she’s just another one of many who knows how to game the system.

  86. #86 Mrs Woo
    Rural Missouri
    April 1, 2016

    @JP #53

    Thank you. I have been trying to keep up with posts but not commenting as much or finding the time to check back when I do, but the old house is under contract and with any luck we will finish the new house and be moved in by end of summer.

    The menagerie is pretty good. We will be breaking and riding the horses this spring.

    Hope.everything is well with you, too, JP? Always nice to see you.

  87. #87 Panacea
    April 1, 2016

    @Narad re #46: Man, that’s harsh.

    Honestly, I have to look at all this with admiration. It says something about how much this nutjob fears you that she goes to such efforts.

  88. #88 Stacy Herlihy
    United States
    April 2, 2016

    Thank you for this column. Allison Hagood and I intend to get revenge on her by writing another book. She’s taken her campaign to my husband by sending him a nasty pm. It includes ridiculous accusations of kinds including allegations that my hubby is a pedophile.

    I don’t even know what to say her anymore other than it’s pathetic that her life’s mission is apparently to lie about the holocaust, emulate the Nazis and harass advocates for public health.

  89. #89 Alain
    April 2, 2016

    Allison, Stacy,

    Need help to deal with her? Pedophilia accusation is something I find hard to deal with and I’ve dealt with many nasty critters over the last 12 years, one of which was sent to my province’s national forensic hospital after I’ve provided testimony against him. I’m on gmail and easy to contact.

    atoussaint1976

  90. #90 Alain
    April 2, 2016

    Oh, and I’ll await the sh!tstorm going my way if it ever meet my inbox 😀

    Alain

  91. #91 Murmur
    UK-ia
    April 2, 2016

    It appears to be SOP for anti-vaxxers/alt-med/etc advocates to have a very tenuous grasp of what freedom of speech and censorship actually mean.

    Over this side of the Atlantic there is a publication called “What Doctors Don’t Tell You”, which is basically anti-SBM propaganda. A number of us, independently and collectively, took exception to it being sold in supermarkets, newsagents and the like alongside genuine news publications and protested to the retailers (result it was withdrawn from sale in many places). The owner of WDDTY complained about a campaign of censorship…

    For extra laughs said owner has banned many folk, including me, from WDDTY’s FB page for having the temerity to correct some matters of fact or point out that their “editorial board” don’t actually have a valid and active medical qualification between them.

    Now that IS censorship…

  92. #92 Cam the Cat
    April 2, 2016

    This is exactly why I left Facebook.

    Or was sanctimoniously kicked off of Facebook & thereby chose never to return.

    I must admit though, I have a (to use one of Trump’s brainless words) tremendous amount of more free time now that I’m not on Facebook. To do other things I enjoy. I let myself get consumed by it there for a few months. Life’s honestly better without it, as there was a lot of damaging drivel just like this on there. Of course, now I am not as easily able to connect daily with many of my family members as well as long-time & distant friends, but it is what it is. Now I just have to make concerted efforts to reach out to people in other more traditional ways.

    Facebook does not care about your connections anymore. They only care about your marketability.

  93. #93 Cam the Cat
    April 2, 2016

    #16 JP

    There was a time when Facebook was trying to force everybody to use their real names, including trans people who used a chosen name rather than their given name, but it almost resulted in a mass exodus to “Ello” (where I have an account, but ended up never using it.) Facebook changed their policy pretty quickly after that.

    This is right around when I was banned from Facebook for using my cat’s name in Oct. 2014, & as far as I know, Facebook basically did nothing to change their policies at all. They may have given a few transgender drag queens their stage names on Facebook back because of their publicity, for they were being viciously targeted by bigots as well, but for the rest of us who were affected, this remains untrue.

    You can still be banned for using a fake name, a nickname, or any other perversion or derivation of your name if someone reports you, & there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. You can try to appeal the ban, but they will demand you change your name to your legal name & provide them with proper forms of identification to further confirm who you really are. Some have been able to argue for their name, but a lot are lost to Facebook forever.

  94. #94 Amethyst
    The Crystal Gem
    April 2, 2016

    I have an online acquaintance who legally changed his name after having had his profile set up with his birth name for a few years or so. The “legal battle” and red tape he had to wade through with Facebook for them to update his name was quite frankly ridiculous.

  95. #95 Frequent Lurker
    April 2, 2016

    Off topic (but is antivax BS ever off topic?) and I apologize if someone saw this elsewhere and linked it, but Daily Beast sent someone to the premier of “Vaxxed.”

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/04/01/i-watched-the-anti-vaxx-doc-booted-from-tribeca-film-festival-and-it-was-insane.html

    Apparently there were ~20 people there. Oh, and it was nuts.

  96. #96 MI Dawn
    April 2, 2016

    I do have a sockpuppet FB account, along with my “real” one. I almost never use it. Maybe I’ll see what I can do with it…Hmmmmm

  97. #97 Stacy Herlihy
    United States
    April 2, 2016

    Alain,

    The allegations have not been yet but thank you for the offer of help.

    Here’s an interesting link to a review of Vaxxed that was linked to in the New York Times. The anti-vax nuts are, of course, all over it.

    http://www.indiewire.com/article/vaxxed-from-cover-up-to-catastrophe-is-designed-to-trick-you-review-20160401

  98. #98 Newcoaster
    BC, Canada
    April 2, 2016

    Reason # 37 I don’t have a FB account.

  99. #99 JP
    April 2, 2016

    Hope.everything is well with you, too, JP? Always nice to see you.

    Doing okay. I’m on track with my academic duties, and I’ll be finished for the semester by April 10th, hopefully, though I can take a few extra days if I need to. Flying out to visit family on the 15th; I’ll get to see my mom and my brother and my two nephews, one of whom I haven’t met yet, so that will be nice. And my brother has a dog (Skeeter, a chocolate lab), so there will be canine company as well.

    Stayed over with a good friend last night who also has a dog, a very sweet pitbull. She’s been working pretty hard on dog training; Nina was noticeably less “I will jump all over you and lick your ears!” than she was the last time I visited. We played some fetch with a green chew-toy ball she has, but, being a pitbull, it was more like tug-of-war most of the time, because she knows how to get the ball, but isn’t terribly good at letting it go.

  100. #100 sadmar
    April 2, 2016

    @ Lurker # 94

    The Beast reporter was at an 11AM workday screening. 20 is decent attendance for that. The NYT reported later showings yesterday sold out. 8PM tonight is already sold out.

  101. #101 sadmar
    Anti-Social Media
    April 2, 2016

    Can’t people who don’t want to use their real name on FB open an organization account, like the real AVWOS? I see posts from ‘organizations’ that are obviously made by some individual, e.g. replies in threads on their page. Can those folks NOT post on other pages under those accounts?

  102. #102 Denice Walter
    April 2, 2016

    On the Tribeca Wrap- up thread
    I mention a link to a Friday viewing which featured a Q and A session with Andy and company.
    @ delbigtree links to the 15 minute you tube ‘treat”.
    I think that the Q and As were to later showings Friday ( and Saturday) not the first one.. possibly, there were about 10 rows of viewers but it was hard to see and only a very brief glimpse of the audience. A smattering of applause sounded like not-a-huge crowd.

  103. #103 KayMarie
    April 2, 2016

    @sadmar #100

    You can post as a page you are an administrator for, but there has to be a regular account it is attached to.

  104. #104 Remiel
    Australia
    April 3, 2016

    Another fringe lunatic being given way too much attention. Why are grown adults still giving people like this the time of day instead of, oh I don’t know, using the block feature as it was intended? Don’t get me wrong, she sounds like she’s very good at throwing tantrums herself, and her website is a good example of her best tantrum by far, but what do you normally do with kids who throw hissy fits? You send them to their room without dinner. Murray probably also needs a diaper change, but she’s not the only person out there like this and at the end of the day, the real problem here is with the shitty automated moderation features of Facebook, making them possible to be abused in the first place. Shitty people will do shitty things, as long as they’re able to do shitty things.

  105. #105 Michael J. Dochniak
    Iowa
    April 3, 2016

    Remiel says (#103),

    Shitty people will do shitty things, as long as they’re able to do shitty things.

    MJD says,

    In parallel, creative people will do creative things, as long as they’re able to do creative things.

    Heather is devilishly creative in her efforts to temporarily suppress some FB bloggers….bad girl.

  106. […] An antivaccine activist explains how she uses Facebook reporting algorithms to harass and silence pr… […]

  107. #107 Ethel
    April 4, 2016

    Apparently someone has used the same techniques against the Vaccine Information Network.

    http://www.vaccinationinformationnetwork.com/corrupt-facebook-bans-41-vaccination-activists/

  108. #108 JustaTech
    April 4, 2016

    Crissyb@82: If Heather worked for Facebook she’d be fired in a heartbeat for this stuff.

  109. #109 capnkrunch
    April 4, 2016

    MJD

    Heather is devilishly creative in her efforts to temporarily suppress some FB bloggers….bad girl.

    Wrong. People have been harassing Allison this way for over 2 years (a certain friend of the blog wrote on it back then). Reporting abuse has been used to supressive other groups for even longer. Heather is not innovative among antivaxers let alone among trolls in general. Persistent? Yes. Creative, unique, novel, innovative, particularly bright? The evidence does not support those statements.

  110. #110 capnkrunch
    April 4, 2016

    Ahem. suppressive.

  111. #111 Lawrence
    San Diego
    April 7, 2016

    I’m wondering if this Heather is the same person I’ve come across in the Google Sphere who dabbles in horse breeding and racing, although the latest FB page update is 2013? She also seems to have linked to a business in Orange County with a list of customer complaints and a “F” BBB rating and her listed as CEO. There are comments on the old FB page about the stables and horses pictured (broodmares & yearlings) about the owner being anti semitic.

  112. #112 Allison Hagood
    April 7, 2016

    Lawrence @#110 – same.

  113. #113 triplepoint
    April 9, 2016

    Considering this pattern of posts you cite, violating Facebook’s ‘community standards’, you have to wonder what community they are actually serving. Perhaps the Facebook employees writing the algorithm were vaccinated as children. Yeah, that would explain it.

    That last was snark, in case you doubted it.

  114. #114 SANDRA SERGENT
    United States
    June 3, 2016

    Everyone seems to miss the point that I want addressed. Why did they take the death stats out of the form a mother has to sign before a child is inoculated. In the eighties when my children were little and getting these inoculation, on the Form I had to sign it listed the number of children who died as a result of the shots. They no longer appear on the form. I’m sorry but if you don’t have anything to hide you don’t hide anything. a parent has a right to know how many children died as a result of inoculation and decide for herself if it is worth the risk to inoculate her child. It angers me beyond belief that they have taken the right to choose away with the denial of Education. These parents have a right to be educated on the pros and cons of every inoculation and they have the right to decide or at least they should have the right to decide rather or not the risk outweighs the benefits. I in no way agree Heather’s approach nor do I agree with her bigotry. I also do not deny scientific evidence I just want all of it revealed not the part that makes science look good. I have heard the song and dance about how it’s impossible to know if the shot caused it alone or if the child had some other illness that contributed. No one is stupid enough to buy that line we hear stats everyday regarding to how many people get COPD from smoking lung cancer from smoking etc etc did you know that about 30% of all COPD cases are not caused by smoking? They can get the information on that but there is no way to tell if the inoculation causes the death or if it were a car wreck? That is actually their response.. If you’re going to tell us this and that caused death to Millions but you can’t narrow down the number of deaths caused by an inoculation, please expect hate group cases like this one to come out of the closet if you are going out of your way to drag them out , don’t complain about it, you get no sympathy. Give us the truth and I will back you 100%

  115. #115 Narad
    June 3, 2016

    Everyone seems to miss the point that I want addressed. Why did they take the death stats out of the form a mother has to sign before a child is inoculated. In the eighties when my children were little and getting these inoculation, on the Form I had to sign it listed the number of children who died as a result of the shots. They no longer appear on the form.

    Um, are you talking about the VIS?

  116. #116 MI Dawn
    June 3, 2016

    Death stats on consent forms? I don’t ever remember seeing that in the 1980s and 1990s when I had my kids vaccinated. Yes, I got VIS for all the vaccines, and remember it showed percentages of side effects/risks of the shot. But I don’t recall any specific death stat (i.e. “10 children died in 1986 from this shot” or even “25 children have died from this shot”).

    Sandra – got a copy of those forms with death stats you can post somewhere? I’m curious.

  117. #117 Chris
    June 3, 2016

    Ms. Sergent: “In the eighties when my children were little and getting these inoculation, on the Form I had to sign it listed the number of children who died as a result of the shots. They no longer appear on the form.”

    That is strange, because it was never on any form I signed in the 1980s when I got my first child vaccines. Could you provide some kind actual evidence?

    Please do come up with the official USA statistics on how many children died from the vaccines during the 1980s and before.

    “No one is stupid enough to buy that line we hear stats everyday regarding to how many people get COPD from smoking lung cancer from smoking etc etc did you know that about 30% of all COPD cases are not caused by smoking?”

    No, we did not know that because you did not provide any verifiable documentation for that claim. But I do know there are other particulates that people breathe. There are issues with air pollution, coal dust from mining, dust in grain silos, etc. It is significant that smoking causes more than half of the cases, when everyone breathes in dust and air pollution. Especially since from 1965 on less than half of the population smokes tobacco.

    “Give us the truth and I will back you 100%”

    You first. Just provide us the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that any vaccine on the present American pediatric schedule causes more harm than the diseases.

    While you are coming up with actual evidence for your claims, just do a little math word problem for us. Here is the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program statistics as of June 2016, now look at the grand totals of the first table. Take the total number of vaccines given for the stated number of years (2,532,428,541 vaccines given between 2006 through 2014), then divide it by the total number of compensated claims (2211 claims). What is that number and what does it mean?

  118. #118 Ellie
    Still on the green side of the grass
    June 3, 2016

    I admit that I didn’t see any forms in the ’80s, because that would have been my grandchildren. However, I had my own children given every vaccine available in the ’60s and ’70s, and never saw any “death list.” Since I was a survivor of 2 VPDs for which they were vaccinated, and was not ignorant of the injuries and deaths caused by VPDs, I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention. I was the weird mother who argued with the pediatrician when he told me that smallpox vaccines were no longer given. He probably dined out on that story for months.

    MY COPD is from smoking and I have never known anyone with that ailment for whom smoking was not the cause.

  119. #119 Narad
    June 3, 2016

    Sandra – got a copy of those forms with death stats you can post somewhere?

    I seem to recall hearing this one before; at least, I distinctly recall wasting a lot of time searching back through documents on a related one that never panned out.

  120. #120 herr doktor bimler
    June 3, 2016

    Everyone seems to miss the point that I want addressed.

    How outrageous, no-one responded to Sandra’s question before she asked it!

  121. #121 brian
    June 3, 2016

    Hi, Ellie. There are, in fact, people with COPD who have never smoked. My next door neighbor is an example. Here’s a recent look at the literature:
    https://www.uptodate.com/contents/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-risk-factors-and-risk-reduction?source=search_result&search=copd+nonsmoker&selectedTitle=2~150.

  122. #122 Ellie
    Still on the green side of the grass
    June 3, 2016

    Hello, Brian. I’m sure there are other causes, especially in my area where lung disease is rampant. However, I was definitely speaking of my personal experience, and I do not know anyone who has/had COPD that wasn’t caused by smoking or possibly secondhand smoke.

  123. #123 squirrelelite
    June 4, 2016

    @Chris,

    Is there a good source for how any of those compensations were for deaths?

    Doing some very crude calculations based on the tables on pages 5 and 6 and assuming all deaths claimed were caused by vaccines, I get an upper bound estimate of death risk per vaccine administered of about 6 in 100,000,000.

    So for the table on page 4, a maximum of about 17 people die each year in what might be caused by vaccinations.

    For comparison, rougly 2500 -4800 people die in the U.S. each year from choking. So, for a population of 300 million eating 3 meals a day, about 1.5 people die per meal eaten.

    So,on that basis, getting a vaccination is about 10 times as dangerous as eating your next meal.

    Very crude, of course!

  124. #124 Chris
    June 4, 2016

    “Is there a good source for how any of those ompensations were for deaths?”

    Um, yeah. Just read the tables, especially the column titles. You are not going to get details because of HiPAA. Yes, it exists, deal with it.

    Dude, I know you are being provocative for a reason, so I have to ask about the incidences of encephalitis, high fevers, paralysis, deafness, pneumonia, and other issues with vaccine preventable diseases. These also need to be measured, for both as effects of the vaccines and the diseases. To neglect that statistic is totally dishonest.

    “squirrelelite, (sarcasm noted) those questions are what Ms. Sergent should answer. Let us wait for her learned response to that particular math word problem.

    Though I have asked this question more than once, and so far I have never received a relevant answer. It seems that those I ask have the very very very few internet accessible computing devices that lack a basic calculator. Which is very weird. Even my old internet idiot dumb flip phone had a calculator. I don’t understand how someone who can comment on teh internets does not have access to a calculator.

    Let us wait to see is Ms. Sergent ever comments on these pages again, or just does a Sir Brave Robin. I am voting on the latter.

    “So,on that basis, getting a vaccination is about 10 times as dangerous as eating your next meal.”

    Except when you put in the frequency variable. I doubt you would have a live child it you decide to feed that child only on the days they are scheduled for a vaccine. The frequency between the infant vaccine schedule is about sixty days… I sincerely doubt most infants survive ten days without being fed.

    As I think about it, your scenario is quite repugnant.

  125. […] algorithms to get Facebook to issue temporary bans to pro-science vaccine advocates. They even brag about how they do it. I had always thought, though, that there were limits. I learned I was wrong when I learned about […]

  126. #126 Allison Hagood
    June 8, 2016

    I have received another 30-day ban for this post, which in no way mentions a name other than the one of the person with whom I am actually conversing, and that person would not have reported this post:

    “Hey, Melissa Kane, looks like the braintrust over at the Fail Wall doesn’t have the moral integrity to screenshot your post accurately. Poor things.”

  127. #127 Allison Hagood
    June 8, 2016

    It turns out that Ms. Murray and her fellow harassers are creating fake profiles using my and other activists’ names, and using those profiles to report posts that mention names even in conversations between friends.

    So, Facebook has created a system in which no one may ever refer to anyone by a name under any circumstances, ever, even in conversations between friends.

  128. #128 squirrelelite
    June 8, 2016

    @Chris,

    I really apologize if my scenario was repugnant.

    I was just trying to compare the risk of vaccination based on the compensations, which is extremely low, with the risk of other common life activities.

    Since Ms Sergent complains about extremely low probability risks not being mentioned, the onus is on her to show that is important enough to risk the much higher threat of the diseases.

  129. #129 Chris
    June 8, 2016

    I understand what you were doing, but I may have overthought it. I sincerely doubt Ms. Sergent would understand the frequency of the events. Good grief the drive to and from the doctor’s office is more risky than the vaccine.

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