Once again, Facebook reporting algorithms facilitate harassment of pro-science advocates by antivaccine cranks

Nearly eleven years ago, back in April 2005, I opened my work e-mail (I was working at a different university back then) and saw an e-mail from someone whose name I had seen before, one Mr. William P. O'Neill. Opening the e-mail, I was shocked to find an e-mail to Orac; worse, the e-mail was cc'ed to my cancer center director, my division chief, and my chairman. In it, O'Neill outed me as Orac and was threatening to sue me over a post I did. Naturally, it was interspersed with accusations of my being a "pharma shill" and having lied about him. Now here's the odd thing. This is the post that provoked Mr. O'Neill's ire. All I did was point to Peter Bowditch's website, specifically his 2004 Millenium Awards. Basically, he was pissed at me for approvingly citing his nemesis, who had taken great pleasure calling O'Neill the Gutless Anonymous Liar.

Thus ended my anonymity, a mere five months after my first blog post. Such is life as a blogger. Nowadays my pseudonym is more a nom de blog than any sort of protection against "outing," as everyone knows who I am and anyone who doesn't and can't find out I consider too clueless to be worth dealing with. Since then, I've had more cranks take a run at me, either through "outing" me online or harassing me at work, than I care to remember. The most agita-inducing example occurred in 2010, when Jake Crosby accused me of an undisclosed conflict of interest with a pharmaceutical company, resulting in the antivaccine drones at Age of Autism sending complaints about this to my dean and the board of governors. Fortunately, nothing came of it, but I'll never forget it.

I tell this story, which I've told several times before over the years, not so much because it's so fascinating, but rather because it illustrates a fact of life that anyone who publicly criticizes cranks must realize. Not having evidence or science on their side, cranks, especially antivaccine cranks, attack the person. In particular, they go after what they perceive as their online critics' weakest point: Their employers. I was reminded of this in a post on Skeptical Raptor by Dorit Rubinstein about a campaign of online harassment against Alison Hagood on Facebook. It includes all the same ugly, sorry tactics, including these actions:

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

As I said, the same old tactics. Meanwhile, elsewhere, pro-vaccine advocates are subject to attacks on Twitter, in blogs, and on other social media. However, there is one new tactic that is more recent. Specifically, it's about Facebook; specifically it's about how antivaccinationists abuse Facebook's reporting algorithms. I've written about this once before, when members of the Stop the Australian Vaccination Network were targeted by what was then called the Australian Vaccination Network for complaints against them on Facebook. Facebook, through its automated reporting algorithms, would then issue 12-hour, 24-hour, or even longer bans against pro-vaccine advocates.

Well, they're at it again. Not the AVN this time, but another group of antivaccinationists, and they're targeting Allison Hagood and others:

Last month, Facebook banned Ms. Hagood for 30 days, for posting an image that “violates community standards”. The image, with a caption Allison added, is shown below. This was her third ban in a row.

The original image, shared widely on Facebook by those who revile Ms. Hagood (shown above), is a photograph of Ms. Hagood’s green-tinted face photoshopped into a still of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. The original caption reads, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!”...

For posting this image, Ms. Hagood was banned from Facebook for 30 days. It is likely, although impossible to prove, that the image was reported by the anti-vaccine activist who created the original image.

Dorit Reiss documents a Facebook conversation gloating about it on the Skeptical Raptor blog:

Anti-vaccine activist #1: Actually A hag’s (sic – the anti’s nickname for Allison) main account is about to come off a 30 day suspension, and I have just the comment to report that will extend it another 30 day
Anti-vaccine activist #2: [image of laughing squirrel with HAHAHA]
Anti-vaccine activist #3: Dahahahaa
Anti-vaccine activist #4: Go for it!
Anti-vaccine activist #5: Go for it!

A year later, they're still at it. In fact, Allison's been banned multiple times, including recently. Mostly it's been Allison Hagood and Stacy Mintzer Herlihy, who co-authored a recent pro-vaccine book, Your Baby's Best Shot: Why Vaccines Are Safe and Save Lives and seem to come in for particularly opprobrium from the antivaccine fringe. However, earlier this week, the man responsible for the Skeptical Raptor website fell into the sights of antivaxers. It's useful to consider just how far they went to do this, too, and the way to do that is to look at a Facebook post one of my readers forwarded to me from an antivaccine group known as The Vaccine Resistance Movement (VRM). It's a Facebook cesspit of the most radical, batshit radical antivaccinationists you'll find. This is the post I was pointed to in that Facebook group (click to embiggen):

Yes, this is the sort of tactics that antivaccine loons use to harass and silence pro-science advocates on Facebook. Yes, this is the sort of tactics that antivaccine loons use to harass and silence pro-science advocates on Facebook.

That last bit sounded very much like a threat.

So, yes, from this it appears that the above woman is behind at least one of these bogus complaints to Facebook. There are actually many more antivaccinationists harassing pro-science advocates on Facebook, but this is the one I saw in a public forum, thanks to one of my readers; so this is the one I'm naming and shaming.

Perhaps you are wondering what the "racial slur" that Skeptical Raptor allegedly made. Here's what I meant when I was referring to just how far someone like Heather would go to find something to complain to Facebook about. What she found demonstrates not just her mendacity but Facebook's cluelessness. I'm Facebook friends with Skeptical Raptor; so I know the story. While it's a little more complicated than this, one thing that contributed to Raptor's ban is a post of his from three years ago in which he referred to someone as "niggardly." As anyone with any education knows, this word is not the N-word that is among the worst, if not the worst, of racial slurs, nor is it related to the N-word. Rather, it means, basically, stingy or cheap and has nothing to do with race or slurs. It turns out the Raptor used the word in a post in which he mocked someone who thought "niggardly" was a racist comment. Heather, clueless as she is, thought this word was related to the N-word. Even more cluelessly, Facebook accepted that explanation. Whether it happened at the level of its automatic algorithm or whether a real human approved the block, who knows? 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.

Because of idiocy like this, I don't use the word "niggardly" anymore exactly because people these days are so clueless that they mistake the word for a racial slur. It's a shame and I know it's truly dumb, but unfortunately language has evolved and the stigma against the N-word is so strong that people hear something that sounds vaguely like it, and their brains shut down. There really is little point in fighting it any more. That battle was lost, and using that word risks getting bogged down explaining that it has nothing to do with the N-word and distracting from my message. Besides, my intentionally using the word as a protest isn't going to change the way things are, and the way things are is that clueless wonders like this antivaccine warrior think the word is "hate speech," and Facebook even more cluelessly agrees.

So let's recap what we have here. We have a group of rabid antivaccine activists intentionally going through Facebook with a fine tooth comb to locate anything that they think they can report to Facebook that might get a temporary ban, and then they report it. It doesn't matter how tenuous that "dirt" is. We have service (Facebook) with a system for dealing with hate speech and online harassment that is easily gamed to harass people, an observation that is ironic in the extreme, so much so that it would be amusing if it weren't so destructive. Facebook's reporting algorithm is now a tool of harassment, such that it can be used again and again to keep pro-science advocates banned and continually on their guard. Finally, Facebook's double standard is so incredible that many complaints about things that should be complained about and should result in a ban result in no action. I personally have complained about harassing posts about myself and others, and each and every time I've received a notice that the post "does not violate Facebook community standards." I've heard similar stories from several others.

Indeed, take a look at the comments after Dorit Reiss' post. You'll see that Allison Hagood has gotten another 30 day ban over, well, let her tell you:

I have just received my fourth 30-day ban for a post that in no way violates any community standards of any kind. The text:

"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

That is fucking priceless. I am in love with Frau Heather's irony right now."

Referring to someone by their first name is not harassment, not bullying, not a personal attack. Laughing at someone's idiocy is not harassment, not bullying, not a personal attack.

Also, Allison's posting of a link to Dorit Reiss' article on harassment on Facebook was also reported as "hate speech." Meanwhile, in the comments after her post, Heather is posting screenshots of Facebook confirming that the targets of her complaints had received temporary bans and gloating heartily. Obviously, my opinion of her is incredibly low. She is cowardly, vindictive, and, let's be frank, a complete and total asshole. She is also welcome to comment here to defend herself if she wishes. Her first comment will go to moderation, but I'll approve it, and after that she will be able to comment freely. Somehow, I doubt she'll take me up on my offer, because she can't function anywhere where she isn't preaching to a friendly, approving crowd cheering her on for her dishonest use of the Facebook reporting system.

So, in the end, once again antivaccinationists have no science, only pseudoscience. They have no good evidence, only cherry picked data twisted into an unrecognizable pretzel in the service of supporting their pseudoscience. So they attack the person, facilitated by Facebook's reporting algorithm. It's truly despicable behavior and not at all disappointing for antivaccinationists. After all, it's what they do; we don't expect anything more honorable from them, and meanwhile, those who've aligned themselves with the antivaccine movement who try to portray themselves as nice and honorable guys (I'm talking to you, Dr. Jay Gordon) stay silent. What is disappointing is that one of the richest companies in the world, a company that revolutionized social media, is apparently incapable of preventing itself from being played for a sucker by antivaccine activists turning its tools intended to prevent and stop harassment into tools to harass.

Either that, or the people running Facebook just don't care. After all, it's not just antivaccine cranks who can game the system. In response to complaints, Facebook routinely deletes peaceful, anti-racist posts by activists, doling out 24-hour and 30-day bans the way it has to Stacy and Allison, while deciding after similar complaints against them that bigoted posts calling for preparing for violence against Muslims don't violate Facebook's community standards.

Truly, Facebook is broken, and its system designed to police community standards seems to indicate that community standards favor pseudoscience, bullying, racism, and harassment.

ADDENDUM: A little birdie told me that the administrators of VRM took down Heather's post and sent me this (click to embiggen):

Heather's post removed

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one thing that contributed to Raptor’s ban is a post of his from three years ago

A post from 3 years ago?

That really is mendacious.

Also I would be willing to bet my left testicle that Heather is fully aware that niggardly is not racist.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

This is why I don't "do" social media. All it does is allowing all the bad things about real-life "leak into" your online life.- the very thing I come to the Internet to avoid. Me hanging around here in these comments on this blog is a rare glitch in my otherwise introverted self...

Also... who the heck is Oraq? Orac's Middle-Eastern cousin mayhaps?

I just went over to Raptor's blog and found this:

http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/antivaccine-acti…

It reveales the extent of the harassment Mrs (Ms?) Hagood has endured in more detail, including rape and death threats - ON HER PHONE. To me, someone sending you a text message is far, faaaaar more "intimate" than an email or other online message and would freak me the hell out.

Err. I was wrong. It was on Facebook still - that message interface looks soooo much like the iOS texting interface...

Orac: "Not having evidence or science on their side, cranks, especially antivaccine cranks, attack the person."

In a way this is an improvement. When I first started studying quackery many years ago they used to sue. Many lawyers had no problems taking on such clients. Fortunately the court system quickly began to rule against the quacks.

By Tgobbi@att.net (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Thank you for this column.

This is the post that got me a three day suspension from Facebook:

For making the following statements a few years ago about a Neo Nazi anti-vaxer :

Heather makes some of the most vile statements I've ever seen posted anywhere outside of places like stormfront where the fucking Nazis gather. She should be grateful that Allison deigns to mock her. Were I charge of the universe, she would not be allowed to leave the house without her KKK robes and burning cross so as to warn the world about the kind of person she is.

This is the same woman I wrote up a few years ago on The Times of Israel:

www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/anti-semitic-hate-speec…

She's an unrepentant Nazi. She's harassing my writing partner. She calls for the death of my kids. And Facebook takes her side and bans me.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

@Stacy

I don't see why Facebook should punish her. Countries that actually put people in jail for Holocaust Denial baffle me. I am of the opinion that there should be no limit to free speech, idiotic ideas should be put out there for all to see and laugh at - especially on Facebook where there is a blooming photo and name of the one making the argument.

It is only when you start talking about the things they do ban it becomes an issue because it is obvious that there is a way to abuse the system to silence other people.

I don't want to put her in jail. I don't even want her suspended from Facebook. What I want is for Facebook to tell me I have the right to call her a Nazi without banning me. She is a Nazi. I want them to stop harassing my writing partner as well.

Facebook isn't doing this. I'm baffled as to why.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

I guess I was right to stay off of facebook despite multiple entreaties by people I know.
( Not my cup of tea: I frequently read one of my gentlemen's page wherein the political commentary by others is often mind-shatteringly awful despite his extremely liberal/ socialistic position I can hear that on television if I so choose)..

HOWEVER watching woo-meistery, I've learned that some of the its thought leaders** want followers to make avid use of it to publicise / proselytise their agenda and product line- both of which are usually interdependent. Mikey brags about his " 1.7 million" followers. Null claims " 150 million" responses to prn.fm ( facebook et al). Anti-vax groups manage to scrounge up 15K to 30K ( except for Vaccine Machine which hovers around 50K).

Interestingly, one of the outlets near and dear to my heart**, TMR- which is now four years old- actually started amongst a group of facebook friends some of whom attended university together and others who were attracted by the bright and shining woo. Its inner circle uses their personal facebook to advise newcomers about how to treat their children's symptoms. Supposedly, there is another social networking interface which they use as well to shield their inner workings from SB lurkers.

** sarcasm

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

It is just like YouTube and their stupid content ID-system - all automated, too. Seems to be these people have figured out how to Facebook's autmated system against people they don't like.

seems to me*

My kingdom for a comment edit function!

I once had an anti-GMO nutter go through my Facebook to attempt to prove that it was not the decade old profile that it actually is (his gist being that I was lying about not being a Monsanto shill). He managed to find out that the Facebook timeline started 9 years ago and took that as proof that I was lying. Only other thing he came back with was a video of me swimming one of my last national meet races as a collegiate athlete, because apparently that should be embarrassing to me.

My profile is now locked down about as tightly as it can be.

People be cray.

You know what's NOT considered abuse by Facebook? Death threats!

From my good friend Melody Butler at Nurses Who Vaccinate

"Seems like Rosie enjoys sending threats to those she disagrees with. She's been messaging the page with several threatening posts detailing how she plans to kill members of our organization. If anyone can provide information on Rosie we can pass on to authorities when we file our report it would be greatly appreciated."

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Thank you Orac for addressing this issue. Like Stacey mentioned above, comments that call for me to be killed and my brain ripped out apparently are acceptable to remain on Facebook despite attempts by many including myself to report them. There's a whole collection I can send you if need be. Thankfully the poster is several thousands of miles away from me, but still, it's always a nerve-wracking to have such threats directed to you at a personal level.

I am of the opinion that there should be no limit to free speech

There always will be limits. Shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater is not, and should not be, protected speech. Speech intended to incite violence is not, and should not be, protected speech. If any of the people who have posted rape or death threats against Ms. Hagood live in New Hampshire, they are in violation of RSA 631:4, which prohibits criminal threatening (and the act is a felony if a deadly weapon is involved in the threat). I assume other states have statutes along the lines of New Hampshire's. Facebook has a serious problem if they are allowing the issuers of such threats to escape punishment.

I agree that prohibiting Holocaust denial is too much regulation, but a line needs to be drawn somewhere.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

In principle, I agree with not limiting speech. I will point out, however, that the U.S. criticism of laws censoring Holocaust denial in Europe comes from a position of privilege. We are a two-party majoritarian electorate system where small, extreme parties can't easily get a foothold in the legislature or executive, though they can have an influence - and we were removed from the direct impact of Nazi control of countries.

Countries where, through coalition government, small parties can have more direct role in policy making and where the Nazi scars were still fresh when these laws were passed are not in the same position.

The way to battle speech is, generally, more speech. But remember that it's easier to do when the system has other built in controls against dangerous extremes getting power.

That's not directly relevant to this problem, though. I don't think anyone here was advocating for silencing Holocaust denial.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

I think death threats (DEATH THREATS!) ought to be grounds for suspension from Facebook if not complete removal. I don't think Allison and I should be punished for calling a Nazi a Nazi. I mean it's not as if she's denying it.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

I should say it now-

Stacy, Dorit, Allison and Melody-

I applaud the fine work you're doing and I'm sure that many readers here feel much the same.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

@Eric. Ah the old "shouting fire in a cinema"-thingy. That would imply that freedom of speech == freedom of consequences.

Which it is not. You should be free to shout "Fire!" in a cinema as long as you are prepared to face the possibility of punishment for causing a panic - that is not something free speech shields you from!

I left out Michael.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Heather?

You know what you're really inspiring us to do? Speak up even louder in favor of vaccines. And write a second book. I am working a new sample chapter in between commenting here.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Thank you for covering the nearly 17 months of harassment I've been receiving. Most of that has been from this person and others, some involved with and encouraged by her, but there have been others who've contacted my employer and left me anonymous threatening voice mails at my office.

The involvement of this particular individual began when she posted, on a public Facebook book (now gone) designed to attack AVWoS, a shocking, anti-Semitic Holocaust denial screed in which she blamed WWII on "the Jews" and stated that Hitler never wanted war. I still have a screenshot of that, which I took at the time and posted elsewhere as an example of the strong thread of anti-Semitism that runs through the anti-vaccine movement.

Since that public posting of her public anti-Semitism, she has been relentless in harassing, cyberstalking, doxing, and threatening me. I wonder if her behavior is related not only to her conspiracy theories about vaccines (among other things - she seems to believe every conspiracy that exists) but also to her discomfort at the thought that someone she cares about may not respond well if they discover her anti-Semitism.

I appreciate that this issue is getting wider coverage.

By Allison Hagood (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Thank you Alison and Stacy and Micheal and Dorit and Melody for the work you are doing. Sorry it is making you the target of such nasty people, please be comforted that there are people of good will who abhor that they are trying to shut you up.

Facebook really needs to get a grip on the malicious use of there reportng systems. I was banned out right when someone maliciously reported me for not using my 'real' name. Now I know that they want you to use your 'real' name, but there are plenty of people who have a whole host of different but good reasons not to use their 'real' name. Furthermore in the UK it is perfectly legal to use any name you want as long as you are not doing so with the intent to commit crime. It seems to be impossible to reach a human to challege such decisions.

Thanks Lord Oraq (sic) for posting this article.

My patience with these whackaloons has slowly been disappearing. At first, I found them amusing, because it's obvious, like Orac the Wizard has written, they lack evidence, so they go on the attack.

Facebook is a fun social place for me. I swear that most of my posts are about politics (Bernie bots are as annoying, but they don't go anti-semitic or hate-filled, because well that would be ironic) and the Walking Dead. And metal. Sir Orac the Wise and I have had long chats about the merits of certain types of Goth Metal. Seriously. We should post those publicly.

Gloryhammer rules. No, that's not a euphemism for Donald Trump's...errrrrr....hands.

These jackasses aren't going to scare me off of Facebook.Because I never would have known about Gloryhammer and zombie unicorns (yeah, trust me, it makes sense) if it weren't for a conversation on Facebook. And no anti-vaxxer, anti-semitic dumbass is going to keep me from learning who's next on the Walking Dead.

By Skeptical Raptor (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

This type of behavior is why the Select committee looking into Planned Parenthood should not get the names of the researchers!

We appreciate your support, Jazzlet. Heather and her cohort of idiots will not silence our voices.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

@Amethyst #20:

You should be free to shout “Fire!” in a cinema as long as you are prepared to face the possibility of punishment for causing a panic

And what if someone gets trampled to death in the panic? Would you still be comfortable with your choice?

By Rich Woods (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

The way to battle speech is, generally, more speech.

It is for exactly this reason that death threats should be (and are, in some states) prohibited. The intent of a death threat is to prevent the target from responding with more speech, whether by terrorizing her into not speaking up, or silencing her by force. When the authorities cannot act until after the latter has happened, this is not good for rational discussion of the issue--at that point it's too late for the victim, and the rest of the public sphere doesn't get to hear her views on the issue.

There is probably a clause in the Facebook TOS that specifies the venue for applicable law (presumably the California county in which Facebook's corporate headquarters is located). Most software companies have such a clause in the license agreement. But there should still be ways of turning up the heat on Facebook. If California has a similar law to the New Hampshire statute I linked in post #16, report it to the California police. If the issuer or recipient of such a threat lives in a state with such a law, report it to the appropriate local authorities. Make Facebook's lawyers explain to the police why Facebook's willful failure (if it's been duly reported to Facebook, then they can't claim not to know) to take action against members issuing such threats does not constitute aiding and abetting.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

In principle, I agree with not limiting speech. I will point out, however, that the U.S. criticism of laws censoring Holocaust denial in Europe comes from a position of privilege. We are a two-party majoritarian electorate system where small, extreme parties can’t easily get a foothold in the legislature or executive, though they can have an influence – and we were removed from the direct impact of Nazi control of countries.

Countries where, through coalition government, small parties can have more direct role in policy making and where the Nazi scars were still fresh when these laws were passed are not in the same position.

I used to write about these issues a lot back in the day because my "gateway" to skepticism was refuting the lies of Holocaust deniers. If you search the term "David Irving" you'll see that I'm opposed to the criminalization of Holocaust denial and was quite vocal ten years ago that David Irving should not be charged in Austria with Holocaust denial, much less imprisoned for it.

As for the position of privilege, I pointed out ten years ago that I totally understood the purpose of these laws in the immediate aftermath of World War II and could agree how necessary they were then. Here's the problem. When I wrote those posts about David Irving, it was over 60 years after the war; today it's more than 70 years after the war. It's thus been close to three generations since Hitler shot himself in his bunker and the allies came across the camps as they advanced into Germany. There comes a time when the training wheels have to come off. It's not unreasonable to ask: When is that time? One would think that three generations would be long enough. After all, the youngest members of the generation that was old enough to actually fight in the war are now in their late 80s.

The issue is really Facebook's double standards. I am suspended for calling a woman a Nazi when she praises Hitler. Someone threatens Melody with death or pm's me "c-world with fugly baby rot in hell," and we are told they are not violating any standards.

There's not even anyone you can complain to at the organization. I've tried and gotten nowhere. If Facebook is going to act as our de facto public square, officials at the company need to do a better job of policing it.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Heather Ann Murray strikes me as the sort who used to draw glasses, unibrows, buckteeth and devil horns on people's yearbook pictures. Possibly scrawled comments in bathroom stalls, too.

How can I help? Is there any way the pro-vaccination readers can help? If I send information to Facebook will they read it?

Pro-vaccination information needs to be on the web. Is there anything your readers can help keep it there?

By JoWhitaker (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

I've commented about this on FB but I'll put it here, also. FB doesn't support the injured, only the injurees.

My cousin has children dying of a neurological (rare) disease, genetically caused. She loves her children dearly and posts pictures of them regularly. One person took some of her pictures and posted them in his/her account, with foul language on them. She properly PM'd the person to remove them. They refused so my cousin tried to report them. First FB replied the picture didn't violate the TOS (!) - there's no real way to say the person took a personal picture and photoshopped it. When my cousin protested again, the creep reported her for harassment and she was locked out for 24 hours. I tried to protest, and the creep took one of my pictures and also put foul language on it. FB did nothing about that, either, "it doesn't violate the TOS". I should have been breastfeeding. Maybe THAT would have done it...

Anyway, several of my friends and my cousin's friends posted and reported. Some got 24 hour suspensions for the report, most got "doesn't violate TOS" messages. My cousin and I ended up blocking the person and locking down our sites more.

FB is seriously screwed up when people can do things like this with impunity, and those who try to protest are those punished.
We know Mark Zuckerburg is pro vaccine. Now let's see if he is pro science.

Facebook's policy regarding what is acceptable and what is not, really blows my mind. Personally, I don't have an account, but I've heard enough on other media from my friends, who tried for example to report a page promoting violence against women or using Nazi imagery to threaten immigrants and refugees. However, since the text wasn't in English, getting someone to react was usually a long and difficult process. And not always successful, either.

Anyway, I would like to thank here all the people who have to withstand such nasty attacks for their support of science.

Anyone else thinking that Facebook employees dealing with reports and handing out suspensions might be anti-vaxxers themselves? That would explain nicely why one side gets banned on a regular basis while anti-vax crowd continue their harassment spree.

I don't really support laws prohibiting holocaust denial even in countries with a history, so am not really going to defend that. The battle there should be one of speech. And I think Orac makes an excellent point about the passage of time. On issues that are not holocaust denial statutes, however, I still think European countries have more justification to take measure like prohibiting certain political parties and penalizing certain kinds of hate speech - because their political systems are more vulnerable to direct effects of such actions, and even with the passage of time, the history is there.

The concept of militant or defensive democracy - a democracy that can use limits on speech to protect itself - is tricky, but not without basis.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Those stories are so upsetting. I'm really sorry, MI Dawn. Automated or person, that goes far beyond speech and there is no excuse for letting it - or what Melody was subjected to - stand.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

I sometimes wonder if crap like this is going to drive Facebook (or somebody like them) to produce Strong AI in order to have a means of outflanking whackaloons from exploiting their reporting systems. The reason these algorithms even exist is because Facebook doesn't have the manpower to deal with 1.5 billion bitchy whiners and they are always searching for more efficient ways to fill the deficit. Sorry for the off-topic; my commiserations for Allison et al. Fight the good fight.

I'm a plaintiff's attorney and science groupie in Colorado. This article outlines a number of actions that would likely be actionable in court - intentional interference with contractual relations pops right to mind, privacy violations, etc. Have scientists fought back by taking these harassers to court?

By Eric Coakley (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Orac, Raptor, Dorit and Melody

Please go to a page on Facebook called 'The Internet Offends Me', send them a quick message. If any help can be provided regarding the harassment you've been receiving, it is there.

Heather admitted to me yesterday that her and her serpents deliberately targeted 10 people to report and "literally laughed thier asses off" when they found out they were all banned. This is not the result of using an algorithm - this is double standards and someone in facebook is facilitating this vile harassment.

By Kerry Blyth (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

My vote goes to "...or the people running Facebook just don't care."

By goblinbox (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Should we give her some of her own medicine? And other anti-vaxxers as well. Scour trough comments over comments and report everything even remotely problematic, to shred her with bans and the like.

By ThunderCrash (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Erik @ 41 - I do not have the financial resources to pursue legal action. I have already spent a couple thousand dollars on legal fees getting my attorney involved in the harassment at work, merely to have legal representation to interact with my employment system to ensure that the system understood what was happening and why, and how to protect my First Amendment rights.

By Allison Hagood (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Death and rape threats? Damn it, report the to the POLICE - they can get Facebook to do the right thing for a change, but more importantly, the whackjob antivaxers can be charged for that sort of crap. Log it, screen shot it, print it - bring in the reams of print outs to file the complaints - Police like it when you bring loads of evidence to back up your complaint and threatening people electronically can damn well get you jail time over here in Oz.

*Eric @41. I apologize for misspelling your name.

By Allison Hagood (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

@Orac,

I've been on auto-moderate here at RI for about 1-year because of my consistent and effective posts related to the hazards of natural rubber latex in vaccine packaging?

I'd rather be banned for 30-days at RI than have a life-time sentence of auto-moderate.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

When you mud wrestle a pig you get covered in filth and the pig enjoys it.

ClaudeL @42 - I did that several days ago, during the brief window when my account was not suspended. I haven't heard back.

By Allison Hagood (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

"My vote goes to “…or the people running Facebook just don’t care.”"

They very likely do care though perhaps not in the way in which you imagine.

There is legal safety in an algorithmic response. Once a human touches an issue such as this and applies human "judgement" they risk a loss of immunity from legal liability under the Communications Decency Act. You'll find the same sort of thing with Google/YouTube bogus copyright complaints and similar disputes on many other sites.

Of course FB could respond to the issue by improving their algorithms, but only if they can do so in a broad, non-discriminatory fashion. Or if they feel a significant legal or political backlash on this particular issue.

Otherwise, they may see this as not much of a problem. After all, they are a business. If they lose customers or have their reputation tarnished they may become motivated. But if the complainers keep clamoring to get back into FB their business is perfectly safe. The conflict can even increase traffic and revenue.

If I were Heather, I really don't think I'd want the world to know that I was a Nazi who is harassing pro-vaccine advocates. Is she under the impression that her campaign here wasn't going to be noticed? Maybe she runs in the kind of circles where the KKK hood is some of a badge of honor but for most normal people, it doesn't look good.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

There has to be some way to let Mark Zuckerburg know that his site is being to fight against a cause he supports. When we were looking for someone to write a foreword to our book, I went to contact a few people including Melinda Gates. Maybe someone should let her know what's going on and she can try and catch his ear?

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

I’d rather be banned for 30-days at RI than have a life-time sentence of auto-moderate.

Oh please please, it would be like Christmas!!!1!

The FaceBook reporting algorithm is clearly still a work in progress. I once reported some soft-core porn (mostly because it's extra not coll when you go photoshopping other people's faces on porn) and I was told that it was not in violation of community standards, which is absurd.

That said, I know a few people and I'll see if I can get them to tell me more about it, and how much it is discussed internally (although not the specifics of that discussion).

I have a feeling that as this election season goes on the ban-as-tool-of-harassment will be used more and more.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

The attempted edits to Allison's W—dia page by 72.228.93.219 (ironically, in Syracuse)* are sadly amusing, not least because this person keeps trying to reinstate them.

* If only it were Rochester, abode of whatever passes for Christina Waldman's law practice.

rs @53:
"There is legal safety in an algorithmic response."

Agreed. Beyond that, Facebook could never afford to hire enough people to have a human look at every single thing. With the better part of a billion users you would need a couple of million people just to keep up.

What they should have is an algorithm that identifies accounts that are regularly placed on a ban to see 1) if the ban request always comes from the same person or group and 2) if the ban is actually justified.

If person A always submits complaints about person B, but person B doesn't submit an equal number of complaints, then it might be worth having a human look at. Or if Person C is responsible for the banning of 80 people, that might also be a flag.

The issue is that the people who would be looking at this stuff would probably have to have extra training, making them even harder to come by.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Narad @359 - I have a name to put with that person/IP address. He also has posted defamatory statements in public, claiming that he believes I am working myself and my "followers" up to actual violence against anti-vaccine advocates, and kidnapping of their children. He references me by full name, and provides information on my employer so people can contact them to complain and demand that I be fired.

Those public posts have been deeded not a violation of community standards.

By Allison Hagood (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

There has to be some way to let Mark Zuckerburg know that his site is being to fight against a cause he supports.

Twatter?

...my consistent and effective posts...

This is half true, which is a high point for MjD.

I’d rather be banned for 30-days at RI than have a life-time sentence of auto-moderate.

Be very careful what you ask for.

Once a human touches an issue such as this and applies human “judgement” they risk a loss of immunity from legal liability under the Communications Decency Act.

I'd have to look for actual cases, but my memory is that the Section 230 protection is plenty broad regarding moderation of comments.

Should we give her some of her own medicine? And other anti-vaxxers as well. Scour trough comments over comments and report everything even remotely problematic, to shred her with bans and the like.

No.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Why not give her a taste of her own medicine? She deserves to be watched closely at the very least, especially given her campaign of harassment. I blocked Lowell Hubbs and got him suspended after he got me a 24 hr suspension for calling him out on his multiple DUI's.

Another thing to do is see we can go after some more major media like Time / the Washington Post or NY Times.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

"I’d have to look for actual cases, but my memory is that the Section 230 protection is plenty broad regarding moderation of comments."

Agreed. Perhaps I was too vague, but then so are the courts at times. Moderation is a vague term, as is what is considered inappropriate content. For a company it's always safer to keep humans out of the loop in these matters so they can be seen to be as neutral as possible. Even when humans do intervene their communication about decisions is crafted to obfuscate who or what is making the decision.

Thanks, Dorit. It just reinforced my knowledge that some people haven't advanced mentally or socially beyond a very immature age, but that there are a lot of good people out there, even strangers, who will act on an atrocity to help out.

I have also suffered from both a 24 hour ban & also an "age-check" on my FaceBook account....I'm not sure exactly how they are gaming the system, but they certainly have gotten rather good at inflicting various amounts of pain on their targets.

I disagree with looking for comments to report. Even more with spurious reporting. These kinds of tactics are for those with nothing else (and nothing better to do). If there is real harassment we need to find other tactics to stop it.

We need to work to fix the system, not waste time swatting gnats.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

It would be nice if say, a Forbes or Huffington Post, did a piece on this....

Then how do we fix the system? Surely Zuckerburg would be horrified if he actually knew what that his own site was being used to harass pro-vaccine activists. How do we get in touch with someone there and demand change?

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

I posted once about Swann's garbage story he posted on local cbs, and received about fifty conspiracy nutjob replies in my email. Obviously that only served to have me keep vaccinating those little disease incubators as per schedule. Although I use my middle finger more now to guide my needle.

It's more like -- the consistent [garbage] posts by desktop jockey that is mjd. If there was a silence user post option in this forum, it'd be a just a little slice of heaven. I dream big some days, I know.

Meanwhile, in the comments after her post, Heather is posting screenshots of Facebook....

Was this the right link?

Last week I tried to reach the Boston Skeptics through their Facebook page and found it was "temporarily unavailable" or some such. Was there something similar going on?

By Sir Bedevere (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

For a company it’s always safer to keep humans out of the loop in these matters so they can be seen to be as neutral as possible.

While I don't disagree, probably the bigger issues are preserving "customer" base, as rs notes in #53, and so preserving profits. FB sells ads, and as long as people are only suspended for awhile, and nobody takes their 'eyes on the screen and go home', they'll continue to have money coming in.

FB could review each suspension, but that takes people, and people are expensive to keep. As long as FB can keep selling the same amount of ads, and not add to staff, even if the individuals staff members care about this problem, they don't have a reason to change.

If I thought it would help, I'd join up and then quit and tell them why.

We need to work to fix the system, not waste time swatting gnats.

I'm reminded of one time that I was visiting my college girlfriend for a week or so at her mom's house. One morning, out of the blue, the kitchen was filled with houseflies. Not quite this,* but pretty bad.

Her brother and I spent a good long morning just killing scores of flies (including the deployment of one of these).** I think we prevailed, but I'd have to double-check with him.

Anyway, now that I've gotten that off my chest, the point is that I don't mind swatting some gnats here and there as a hobby (and that TINW). Indeed, if "the system" is FB, gnat-swatting might be compared with the quixotic.

* I'm too lazy at the moment to find a better link.
** Thanks, laserpointerforums!

Stacy Herlihy@32:

The issue is really Facebook’s double standards. I am suspended for calling a woman a Nazi when she praises Hitler. Someone threatens Melody with death or pm’s me “c-world with fugly baby rot in hell,” and we are told they are not violating any standards.

There’s not even anyone you can complain to at the organization. I’ve tried and gotten nowhere. If Facebook is going to act as our de facto public square, officials at the company need to do a better job of policing it.

The only thing Facebook cares about is acquiring all of your personal information and making money. And I'm willing to bet they get a lot more of it out of the gutter-feeding mouthbreathers than from folk like you.

Have you considered taking it to the press with a big fat file of evidence? Online hacks like Gawker Media always seem to relish slinging well-deserved mud (Zuckerberg is a not infrequent target, and antivaxxers and altie scammers get theirs too), plus a bit of variety to break the neverending torrent of Trump certainly wouldn't hurt right now. Won't fix FB (honestly, nothing short of burying it under solid concrete would), but could be worth it just to watch the roaches panic and scatter under the suddenly harsh light.

I have criticism for anti-vax attitudes in general because there's a place for vaccines in 21st Century medical care. I have stronger criticism for those who are uncivil, profane and threatening.

At your request, David, I have voiced this on Twitter today and will continue to do so.

Best,

Jay

By Jay Gordon (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Death and rape threats? Damn it, report the to the POLICE

If memory serves, this isn't the first time that this has come up in these comments. The basic rule of threats is that they have to be credible.

Vague but harrassing communications don't cut it. In this case, the remedy would be civil: intentional infliction of emotional distress, tortious interference (for contacting one's employer), etc.

Hey Jay,

What do you think of people like Heather who are outright unrepentant Nazis? People who call me the c word and call my girls disgusting names? Those who harass Allison at work?

Like many other pro-vaccine activists like Meloday, Dorit and Michael, I've been subject to hours of abuse. And for what? For standing up to the greatest health development of the last five hundred years? For daring to suggest that vaccines really are safe and save lives?

NVIC ran a hit piece on me on their Facebook page against me by a lunatic who thinks his daughter's diabetes was caused by vaccines. There were dozens of comments on the site threatening harm against me and my kids before it was finally taken down. Our book has dozens of reviews online accusing us of just about every crime under the sun.

Dr. Offit can't even tour because he gets too many death threats. My dear Allison has spent thousands of dollars defending herself against anti-vaxers because she co-wrote a good book on vaccines and has helped raise funds for vaccines for poor kids. Dear Dorit endures some of the most vile name calling I've ever seen on every single anti-vax internet forum.

Where does it end? When will your side clean up their act?

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

I too have been targetted by the bullies of the anti vax movement. In fact, my (incorrect) employer details are listed on the age of autism website with people actively writing to that employer even though I clearly do not work in the medical field.

I haven't met anyone as dishonest, spiteful or downright crap as anti vaxers. When you think they can't go any lower, they surprise you every time.

If babies weren't dying I simply would not give them the time of day.

By AnonyMouse (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

I have seen some other examples of how FB drops the ball.
Despite thousands of complaints, including from the Anti-Defamation League, the page "Jewish Ritual Murder" (the charge that Jews kill gentile children to use their blood to make matzoh), the page stayed up.
On a movie page when the question was asked "What new superhero would you like to see?", the answer "Jewtaker" didn't violate their standards. Neither did the comment making the "Jews secretly control the world" charge get removed.
My best guess is that an algorithm scans the post for ethnic/racial/other hate words and lets it stand if they're not found. If you ask for a review, it seems to be checked by a human, but I suspect they're in some other country, maybe are not native English speakers, and have no clue about evaluating the content. I couldn't find another level to take it to.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Why not give her a taste of her own medicine?

Because that would make you as bad as her and you don't want to be there.

Then how do we fix the system?

Publicity.

If descriptions of what is going on get traction in the media and start making Facebook look bad to lots of people, then Facebook will change the way they do things.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Where does it end? When will your side clean up their act?

They will never clean up their act. They have no evidence. This is all they have. You only have to see some of the comments that are tolerated on Age of Autism to understand that the anti-vax movement is willing to accept nearly anyone, Lowell Hubbs included.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

I do not agree that reporting death threats, disgusting comments about my kids and open calls for the murder of all Jews makes me as bad as those who harass pro-vax advocates.

However,I do agree the real issue is indeed Facebook's refusal to distinguish between worthy public behavior and the very opposite.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

I guess Mark Zuckerberg's actually not all that pro-vaccine.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Inmara:Anyone else thinking that Facebook employees dealing with reports and handing out suspensions might be anti-vaxxers themselves? That would explain nicely why one side gets banned on a regular basis while anti-vax crowd continue their harassment spree.

Makes sense to me. A lot of Silicon Valley/crunchy types don't vaccinate, and the ones who don't have children are mostly dudebros who don't think rape threats (or rape) are wrong.

Dr. Gordon: Please stop lying. You NEVER supported vaccines and you still don't. And you sling mud with the best of them. Stop pretending to be a knight and get down in the mud with your pals. Have you stopped having affairs with the mothers of your patients yet?

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

When has Melody made death threats? When has Allison suggested a single person get raped? When has Orac or Michael Simpson ever been uncivil, profane and threatening? Hell, when has Dorit ever said anything nasty about anyone?

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Dr. Gordon: Please stop lying. You NEVER supported vaccines and you still don’t. And you sling mud with the best of them. Stop pretending to be a knight and get down in the mud with your pals. Have you stopped having affairs with the mothers of your patients yet?

As if I thought you couldn't be more vile...
Seriously, PGP put down the internet and go have a nice cup of STFU.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

You only have to see some of the comments that are tolerated on Age of Autism to understand that the anti-vax movement is willing to accept nearly anyone, Lowell Hubbs included.

Let's [sic] not conflate AoA with VacTwoof, the latter of which has become the refuge of Mr. Sudds.

AoA, as I recall, even reins in "White Rose" = “Hans Litten” = “Sophie Scholl” = “Georg Eisler” once in a while, although it's allowed to use multiple pseudonyms in a single comment thread. (It also occasionally lapses into normal punctuation with the same pseudonyms, but I don't much care. Cf. Jake's joint.)

#81 Thank you, Dr. Gordon, for saying that.

And I agree with ScienceMom's criticism of the ugly response at #90. That was uncalled for. Especially in response to Dr. Gordon's comment.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

I do not agree that reporting death threats, disgusting comments about my kids and open calls for the murder of all Jews makes me as bad as those who harass pro-vax advocates.

I didn't say it would.

However, rummaging around in someone's old facebook posts to find things that can be taken out of context, reporting them and getting your friends to do the same, all in order to get someone blocked from Facebook would make you as bad as her.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

No one is proposing to do do that, Chris.

What we are baffled over is why death threats seem fine to Facebook but calling a Nazi a Nazi gets you suspended. That apparent problem needs to be corrected. If Facebook is going to be the public square, it clearly needs far better policing.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

No one is proposing to do do that, Chris.

The comment at #46 did exactly that.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

This is why I stay off Facebook. More than enough bullshit and drama in the real world.

Being a private entity, I believe that Facebook can do whatever the hell they please in regards to what does and does not follow their guidelines.

Sadly, Facebook is so big and so profitable I highly doubt that it's possible for any one group to gather a critical enough mass to effect change

Agreed with Chris Preston. No need to sink to their level.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

"Dr". Gordon: I apologize for the crack about your patient's parents.

Dorit, ScienceMom: Ok, so my crack was uncalled for, but why are you defending him? A few years ago, he would have been happily slinging around slurs and threats, and he hasn't demonstrated that he's learned anything from the epidemic in California.
He's pretending to support vaccines, but I bet he's still advising his patients to hide in the herd, just like his buddy "Dr." Sears does. Why should we believe that Dr. Gordon now supports vaccines, in light of his past behavior?

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Jeepers PGP:
blockquote>Makes sense to me. A lot of Silicon Valley/crunchy types don’t vaccinate, and the ones who don’t have children are mostly dudebros who don’t think rape threats (or rape) are wrong.
Science Mom is right.
"Seriously, PGP put down the internet and go have a nice cup of STFU."

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

@Rich Woods, #24:

In the sense that I would still stand up for unrestricted, no-holds-barred free speech, yes. Most definitely.

Allison Hagood@23

I still have a screenshot of that, which I took at the time and posted elsewhere as an example of the strong thread of anti-Semitism that runs through the anti-vaccine movement.

Link?

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Dorit, ScienceMom: Ok, so my crack was uncalled for, but why are you defending him?

Politicalguineapig, I have a rule I adhere to of only criticising people for what they have actually done. And indeed praising them when their actions are praiseworthy - despite how I might otherwise feel about them.

This means I will criticise people for making unfair accusations, such as you have done.

As a result of your broad brush accusations and lack of self-criticism, I have always considered you to be a jerk, but your contributions to this thread have seen you fall to a new low in my estimation.

By Chris Preston (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

Jay Gordon @81:
At your request, David, I have voiced this on Twitter today and will continue to do so.

Bravo
Though I do not know this "twitter" whereof you speak.!

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Mar 2016 #permalink

And no anti-vaxxer, anti-semitic dumbass is going to keep me from learning who’s next on the Walking Dead Kim vs. The Cougar.

FTFY.

"Besides, my intentionally using the word as a protest isn’t going to change the way things are, and the way things are is that clueless wonders like this antivaccine warrior think the word is “hate speech,” and Facebook even more cluelessly agrees."

And this is how political correctness leads to an illiberal society in which people are shunned and shamed even if they did nothing wrong.

No, it's coming to a simple concession to reality and a realization that fighting over this particular word is really not something worth wasting my time on. In other words, It's not a hill worth dying on. Fighting over the word would do nothing but distract from the message I'm trying to communicate, and the message I'm trying to communicate is what I deem important, too important to risk sidetracking. This is especially true given that the word itself is rather 18th century-sounding and there are many other alternatives to communicate the same idea.

But, hey, if you want to tilt at windmills trying to fight the mistaken view of this word, be my guest. Have at it. Knock yourself out. Good luck.

Blithely stepping around the current controversy , I ask,

"Do you ever wonder where antivaxxers get their rhetoric?"

AS you know I follow alt media loons daily and here's what popped up at Natural News yesterday ( print and video):

Mikey discusses an Australian Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, ( a "Victorian" -sic) who says vaccines are safe
she is
"a crazy, psycho danger to children...liar.. propagandist for toxic vaccine industry.. quack.. needs to be b!tch slapped...child murderer...pushing poison... medical mafia terrorist.. evil, disturbed person.. insult to humanity.. gets turned on by a child's suffering.. anti-life ..." ( part of a) "cabal of darkness, almost satanic.. like Aztec and Mayan human sacrifice''

He includes her address so followers can harass her/ her superiors further.

Mike displays his usual sartorial splendour and his Glock.

Similar foetid tripe over at prn.fm.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

capnkrunck @#103, the post was on an attack page that has since been removed, so there is no link, and I haven't posted it unredacted anywhere since doing so gets ME reported for hate speech. By Heather, who originally posted it in the first place.

Yes, that's right. When I post a screenshot of a public post Heather made in which she denies the Holocaust and blames WWII on "the Jews" and claims Hitler was a good guy who never wanted war, Heather reports that post for hate speech and Facebook agrees and doesn't remove it.

However, Facebook never removed the original post and deemed it not a violation of community standards.

If someone with a blog wants to include the unredacted screenshot, I'm happy to provide it.

By Allison Hagood (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

ARGH my kingdom for an edit function. #111 should read capnkrunch, and Facebook DOES remove my repost, but DIDN'T remove the original.

More coffee is needed.

By Allison Hagood (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

Thank you for writing this article. I've always stood strong in my belief that Ms. Murray doesn't care one way or the other about vaccines. Harassing and stalking people, while trying to play the victim, is the name of her game.
What earned me my 3 day ban on the faceplace was a comment made in Apr of 2014 that simply said, "I don't actually think it's the same Heather. I have a hard time thinking that "Heather" is a Heather at all. I've just hardly ever met a female racist, homophobic, Holocaust denier."
I don't see how this violated any of Facebook's standards.
In the mean time Ms. Murray went after me and my whole family, minor children included, with the vengence of someone that made it their full time job. Much like she's doing to Allison.
She started with the usual jabs about my weight, the way my children look, and then moved on to my husband. The one that doesn't even drink alcohol. She used his full name, claimed he was an unemployed meth user with HIV that plays in a basement band. He is a well respected musician here in KCMO, but the rest was just her stereotyping. He has a "real" job with a multi-billion dollar corporation as a billing specialist. When we reported this to Facebook they did nothing, so my husband had to take it to the legal dept at his place of work. Where he underwent a drug test and HIV test, and the legal dept sent her a cease and desist. Angry she was proven wrong about his ability to play multiple instruments in multiple bands, and have a respectable job, she doxxed his place of employment, and called for all her flying monkies to call and harass them. Again Facebook did nothing. She then took profile pictures of ours and used it as the cover pic for one of her hate on Allison pages. My eldest happened to be in a caat in that pic because she tore her tendons in her thumb. She then called for everyone to call CPS on us because we "beat our children", Once again, Facebook did nothing. She went on to fill that thread with pictures she had to scroll back to the beginning of both my, and my husband's Facebook account to find. Pictures of me drinking out of a champagne bottle at the age of 21.....7yrs before I had kids, claiming I'm an alcoholic. Pictures of my husband's bachelor pad before we even started dating and he used to smoke cigarettes inside his home. And Facebook did nothing. She even faxxed these pictures to my eldest daughter's school. So proof she stalked an 11yr old.
Ms. Murray suffers from some severe mental disorders. I don't feel right making fun of her because of these disorders, but I do find her dangerous and feel that the public should be warned.

By Melissa Kane (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

@Allison Hagood

I think the comment your describing is the same one in a post by Stacy, which she linked to in comment #7. Is that the one?

I had to get up and walk around the room before typing this, but I'm about to defend Jay Gordon. PGP, stop it. It's like you take one step forward and then two steps back. Just stop.

I don't think Dr. Gordon's a saint but I don't paint him with the Sears brush, either. He strikes me as more reasonable than the reactionary moron, Dr. Bob, and on a personal note, his website was extremely helpful to me when I had an infant who wouldn't sleep and every other piece of info I came across said "let her cry it out" which felt terribly wrong for everyone involved.

I read what you tweeted, Dr. Gordon, thank you for taking a stand. I agree with the others who've written that stooping to "their" level is wrong. I don't know what the answer is with respect to Facebook, and I sympathize with the people who've been threatened and maligned. But it's Facebook and at the end of the day, it's Facebook.

Yep. I suspect that, if Dr. Jay weren't so friendly and willing to accommodate antivaccine parents, we might even get along pretty well. He might even be persuadable if he could ever come to realize his own confirmation bias and how personal anecdotes don't trump science. OTOH, I've been trying for nearly 11 years without much success.

As for going through antivaxers Facebook posts with a fine tooth comb to look for material to "give them a taste of their own medicine," while I sympathize with the sentiment, I have a hard time thinking of an activity that would provide less bang for the buck or be a bigger waste of time. That's not to say that new posts we happen to come across shouldn't be reported when appropriate. I just think that going to a lot of effort to dig for dirt is pointless and does bring us down to the antivaxers' level. As emotionally satisfying as it might be, I can't support or recommend such activity.

@Todd W #13 - yes, it is. Thank you! I had forgotten that Stacy's Times of Israel article link was available in this thread. I also have dozens more screenshots of posts by Heather expressing similar sentiments.

By Allison Hagood (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

What earned me my 3 day ban on the faceplace was a comment made in Apr of 2014 that simply said, “I don’t actually think it’s the same Heather. I have a hard time thinking that “Heather” is a Heather at all. I’ve just hardly ever met a female racist, homophobic, Holocaust denier.”

Oh, I've come across many since the late 1990s. I don't think they're less common than racist, homophobic, Holocaust-denying men. They just usually aren't the ones who speak out or rise to prominence.

We need to prod Facebook to protect people like Melissa. I'm sorry you went through that experience. False CPS accusations and workplace harassment are not acceptable.

FYI, it's not just Facebook. The book that Allison and I wrote is sold primarily through Amazon and in libraries. Dozens of nasty personal comments have been made about the book on Amazon by people who haven't read it. We have been unable to get Amazon to remove these comments.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

I spoke to my contact at Facebook and while they wouldn't say much (anything) for the record, they did suggest that prominent (Internet-famous) people should try to become "verified" (the blue check mark, like on Twitter) which should provide a greater degree of protection.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

Well, that's a lame response. Not very many people qualify, and what about the rest of us. (No, I don't think I'm that "Internet-famous.)

@ Melissa Kane:

I'm sorry about what happened to you and your family.

I just want to note that you have a reasonable attitude about your oppressor -
it's true, people who experience mental illness are not totally** responsible for their actions BUT they still can harm people.

Best wishes to you.

** it's debatable- and individual- how much they- or anyone- are responsible.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

I'm not famous in any way, Internet or otherwise, and that response basically says that non-famous people are at the mercy of crackpots and dangerous loons who manipulate the reporting system. It's unreasonable to expect regular people to have no protection from harassment facilitated by Facebook.

By Allison Hagood (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

"Facebook’s reporting algorithm is now a tool of harassment."

Now?

No, it always has been. The fact that you're friend is now a victim of it doesn't make it new.

I used to run a gay atheist page. The constant reports from the religious nuts forced me to cancel my original Facebook account. Frankly, I can't even fathom running a page until this issue of report harassment is properly addressed by Facebook. I won't hold my breath waiting. It's been 2 1/2 years for me. Others have been waiting longer...

Aside from chatting with friends or perusing news stories, Facebook is a broken format to me for exercising any type of serious communication.

By AJ Hayden (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

It's true enough that the "good" Dr. Gordon has removed a lot of the more 'militant' anti-vax links in the past, but there is this added within the last 6 months -
http://drjaygordon.com/vaccinations/bob-sears-excellent-sb-277-vaccine-…

His web site may be cleaner, but we can't know what he says in the exam rooms.

He also still recommends homeopathy for ear infections, Colloidal Silver for colds, and vitamin C for flu prevention.

I, myself, wouldn't take a stray cat to him for treatment.

Personally, I don't like the term "internet famous". It sounds like a backhanded compliment.
"Well, you're not really a public figure, but you're internet famous."

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

When I first went to Allison with the idea of writing a book, I did so with a bit of trepidation. I knew the subject was considered controversial in some way (yes, I know it isn't) and a significant number of anti-vaxers are not exactly the nicest people (why yes I'm looking at you, Barbara Loe "the slut shot" Fisher).

We knew that asking Dr. Offit to write the foreword would align us with him and that there are people who hate him. We knew that going in.

What we did not expect is that Facebook would literally help facilitate such people and provide them with a platform. Or that the company would punish pro-vaxers rather than vicious anti-Semitic lunatics.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

I, myself, wouldn’t take a stray cat to him for treatment.All to the good, since he's not a veterinarian.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

Sigh - first sentence was a quote.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

@AJHayden: One notes that I linked to an article I wrote over two years ago about Facebook algorithms being gamed by antivaccine activists in Australia to silence pro-vaccine speech on Facebook that they don't like. I am well aware that this is not a new issue. It is, however, a relatively new issue compared to the sorts of harassment I first started experiencing 11 years ago online as a result of my blog.

Noted. Thanks for your reply.

By AJ Hayden (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

What to do about these people:

1) Set up an email address on your broadband carrier's service (they usually give you five free ones) consisting of "first initial last name" @ the domain the carrier provides. Choose a name that turns up either a) nothing or nearly so when searched or b) a large number of people with that name because it's a very common name.

2) Use your new pseudo to post some anti-vax crap in some of the usual places such as TMR. This helps build up some history that's searchable.

3) Set up a new FB account on a machine you no longer use, with that pseudo as your "real name." (What is "real" anyway?) Noodle around a bit and post boring comments in places that make you look like a parent.

4) Then go to the antivaxer groups' pages and apply to be let in. They'll search your background and find your previous antivax posts on TMR and the like, using your "real name."

5) Once you get in: Look for people who are promoting "pox parties" and the sending of chickenpox-infested material through the mail, e.g. used lollypops and the like, so they can "share natural chickenpox and get natural immunity". (For anyone here who doesn't know, yes this happens and it's fairly common.)

6) Once you get inside those groups, take date/time-stamped screenshots, print them out, then take them to your nearest branch of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. This may mean having to drive to a nearby big city. Show the stuff to the Postal Inspectors. Also let them know that some other anti-vaxers have been sending you credible death threats such as to your personal phone number that is either a mobile device or an unlisted landline or whatever.

7) The Postal Inspectors will go after the perps like mad dogs, for the felony of sending infectious material through the US Mail (which puts postal employees directly at risk). The Postal Inspectors are ferociously effective at prosecuting criminal cases that involve use or abuse of the mail, and they do not lose cases. They will subpoena Faceborg records to get the necessary information. Faceborg will most likely comply.

This may or may not directly catch the people who are doing harassment of vaccine supporters, but any criminal prosecutions of anti-vax loons are always good, and may have a bit of a deterrent effect.

8) Once a prosecution gets reported in any media, go to that media org's reporters (e.g. local TV news, local newspaper) and ask if they're interested in your story. That may result in the local news station calling Faceborg's media relations number and asking for comment.

That in turn may embarrass Faceborg and lead to getting the harassers shut down.

It's worth a try.

By Gray Squirrel (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

Facebook was always a dangerous and dysfunctional platform. Since a friend in the intelligence community (don't you just love that phrase?) warned me to avoid FB, I have never used it and doubt that I ever will.

By Lighthorse (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

@Eric Lund #30: Make Facebook’s lawyers explain to the police why Facebook’s willful failure (if it’s been duly reported to Facebook, then they can’t claim not to know) to take action against members issuing such threats does not constitute aiding and abetting.

FB's lawyers could argue that like the post office, the platform only serves to facilitate delivery of content and there fore can not be held responsible for what is delivered. Amazon is making the same argument for the sale of dietary supplements on their sites with illegal and bogus claims, including those containing pharmaceutical drugs and dangerous substances.

By Lighthorse (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

It’s true enough that the “good” Dr. Gordon has removed a lot of the more ‘militant’ anti-vax links in the past, but there is this added within the last 6 months –
http://drjaygordon.com/vaccinations/bob-sears-excellent-sb-277-vaccine-…

His web site may be cleaner, but we can’t know what he says in the exam rooms.

He also still recommends homeopathy for ear infections, Colloidal Silver for colds, and vitamin C for flu prevention.

*sad trombone*

Still like what he has to say on sleep.

The chilling effect of these attacks on speech is bad enough, but am I the only one alarmed by the seemingly increasing stridency and militancy of these anti-vax groups? "Vaccine Resistance Movement" sounds to me frighteningly close to the name that a paramilitary organization would use and the violent rhetoric coming out of Austrailian anti-vax'ers in particular makes me nervous. As these people get further marginalized, how long until they choose to take a page from the Operation Rescue playbook?

By TroubleMaker (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

I rarely use Facebook and I guess I have no idea what goes on there in the anti-vaccine world. I even agree that there's a "false equivalence" when one compares the amount science supporting the safety of vaccines with the publications disputing that safety. But I think that questioning the schedule for childhood vaccines and wanting improvements in vaccines (pertussis and influenza to name two) is not anti-vax per se at all.

By Jay Gordon (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

Some commentary by Heather on an article I wrote calling her out on her anti-Semitism:

Checkout all the Jewish ties to 9/11 http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/.../esp_sociopol_911...

*

It is the utter single-mindedness of those who hunt down and persecute so-called Holocaust Deniers and Revisionists that I object to. Millions of people, not only Jews , suffered and died horrible deaths on battlefields, on the high seas and in fire-bombed cities during a conflict that may never have happened, had international Jewry not declared economic war on Germany.

*
Let’s also not forget Judea declared war on Germany in 1932, and for 8 years Adolf warned them if they persisted in trying to corrupt the economic miracle that he created while USA and the world stood in soup lines that they would pay a heavy price.

For many years the Jew's were able to take their possessions and peacefully leave Germany but despite the warnings some didn't and those who didn't heed his words for 8 years were trapped after England declared war and now international Jewry the USA England and France needs take the responsibility for the Jew's who were sent to camps and eventually died from starvation due to allied air superiority bombing the supply lines, which included food to the camps.

In all the news reels I have seen about liberated camps I never saw one plump Jew, all the bodies were emaciated from long time hunger so this idea of trains rolling in and gassing people within hours doesn't add up. Ernst Zundle who did a documentary on the Zyclone b (a delousing gas) from mortar samples taken from Auschwitz clearly showed that the amounts were not lethal and cannot be concentrated enough to do so. There were much more effective gasses during this time yet none were ever found.

Which makes me wonder if Adolf was such a bad person why he didn’t fight on the Russian front using gas, clearly with the western winds at his back he could have annihilated them and won the war.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

"His web site may be cleaner, but we can’t know what he says in the exam rooms."

In the exam rooms I say pretty much what I say in public: In the 21st Century, we have done such a good job vaccinating in every corner of the globe that one is safe traveling without vaccines. The circular discussion is that I can countenance delayed and refused vaccines because of vaccines . . .

In exam rooms, I tell parents that I dislike the current schedule, have no proof that a delayed schedule is safer but will strongly support their requests to vaccinate on a different schedule. Should they choose to give no vaccines at all, we discuss how miserable pertussis is, how measles and chickenpox are found in much greater numbers in Europe and elsewhere and that lack of tetanus immunity will make every rusty thumbtack or visit to the ER much more anxiety-provoking. And much, much more. I have taken care of hundreds of families who might have planned to give no vaccines at all and eventually do vaccinate based on reasoned discussions in my office. (Yes, don't I think I'm just so wonderful.)

As an aside, I receive threats on my life, my license, my hospital privileges, my family. As you can see from a cursory reading of just this one page, incivility is not limited to anti-vaxxers. And a sincere thank you to those of you who responded in opposition to that incivility. And, yes, Orac, for who we both are, I think we get along reasonably well. We both love dogs and Steve Jobs.

By Jay Gordon (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

an Australian Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, ( a “Victorian” -sic) who says vaccines are safe

"Victorian" because Ms Hennessy is Minister of Health in the government of Victoria, one of the states comprising Australia.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

There's a lot more sick commentary from her on the article I wrote. She is exactly what I said she is a -- a horrible Neo Nazi.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

Ernst Zundle (sic) who did a documentary on the Zyclone b (a delousing gas) from mortar samples taken from Auschwitz clearly showed that the amounts were not lethal and cannot be concentrated enough to do so. There were much more effective gasses during this time yet none were ever found.

Which makes me wonder if Adolf was such a bad person why he didn’t fight on the Russian front using gas, clearly with the western winds at his back he could have annihilated them and won the war.

So she's not just a revisionist, she's a stupid, ignorantrevisionist.

Dr. Jay, why do you question the schedule, and what are the improvements you would like to see to the pertussis and influenza vaccines?

In the 21st Century, we have done such a good job vaccinating in every corner of the globe that one is safe traveling without vaccines.

You know you're really wrong here, right?

Do you ever have patients who travel outside of North America and Europe??

Orac @121: I agree it's not much, but the person I talked to isn't authorized or qualified to say anything else.
And you might very well qualify as "internet famous", I don't know what the standards are these days.

I 100% agree that the harassment is wrong and Facebook needs to do more about it, but they have 1.5 BILLION users. That is a lot of content to monitor.

(Also, PGP @90: You have anything else nasty you want to say about all Facebook employees, all residents of the greater SF Bay Area or anyone else who you'd like to tar with that state-wide brush? You give guinea pigs a bad name.)

By JustaTech (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

My bet was on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I thought it was plagiarism from somewhere. Give me a call if you can tonight, Allison. Thanks.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

Hi Delphine.

I received a typhoid vaccine and my second Hep A prior to going to rural Nepal after last year's earthquakes and had received my first Hep A prior to doing some clinic work in Ethiopia. I'd recommend the same to families in my practice.

Pretty much every day I discuss travel to Africa, South America and Asia with families in the practice. I tell them that the incidence of many diseases is not much higher in most Third World areas but that measles and meningitis are found in greater number elsewhere. I also tell them that should they contract certain illnesses in certain locales treatment would be very different and perhaps more dangerous than it would be here. YF vaccine is specifically not recommended for travel to Tanzania--the most recent discussion yesterday and I refer weekly to a couple very conventional travel docs in my neighborhood when parents want that perspective. Most of them do and most get more vaccines that I might suggest to them.

The pertussis vaccine is now known to be far less effective than we thought and immunity wanes far faster than we thought. We need a better shot. The flu vaccine needs a billion dollars worth of research and we discourage that expenditure by telling patients what a great flu vaccine we already have.

By Jay Gordon (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

@ herr doktor:

I know I know. There was a Ray Davies song about it.

Mikey sounds as it he doesn't know.
Odd way of expressing it in his video, said more than once. Perhaps he was insinuating that she was from that long gone era , indeed behind the times, unlike a natural health genius like himself.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

We certainly could use better pertussis and influenza vaccines. They're still way better than the zero protection non-vaccination offers. And I don't think recommending either vaccine to people discourages research. To remind you, the rates of flu vaccines are much lower than others. It's not that they're selling to potential.

And anyone threatening your life or family is someone I don't want on my side of this debate, thank you. That's inexcusable.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

Poor Jay Gordon just doesn't realize when to keep quiet, and bask in the (extremely limited) favorable commentary he received in this thread. Instead, he has to prove that he still hasn't learned some elementary medical lessons.

"In the 21st Century, we have done such a good job vaccinating in every corner of the globe that one is safe traveling without vaccines."

You betcha! We all know that vaccine uptake is superb all around the world, antivax fearmongering doesn't affect residents of the Third World, vaccine workers are held in high regard in all places and are even escorted to their duties by radical Islamic security guards. As a result, there are just no vaccine-preventable diseases left to catch - just like in California, measles has been of no recent concern at all because all the kiddies were vaccinated.

"I refer weekly to a couple very conventional travel docs in my neighborhood when parents want that perspective. Most of them do and most get more vaccines that I might suggest to them."

Translation: There are smart parents who aren't buying into my "the world is safe from infectious disease" argument and want optimal vaccine protection instead of the pitifully inadequate suggestions I made to them (reminiscent of those parents Jay has spoken of here, who apparently had to talk him into giving their kids needed shots).

"The pertussis vaccine is now known to be far less effective than we thought and immunity wanes far faster than we thought. We need a better shot."

Exaggeration aside, we realize the limitations of the pertussis shot and the need to explore possible booster shots as well as a more immunogenic vaccine. What we don';t need are antivaxer docs trying to steer parents away from a still-valuable vaccine.

"The flu vaccine needs a billion dollars worth of research and we discourage that expenditure by telling patients what a great flu vaccine we already have."

I am trying to come up with a nicer term than "lie" to describe this claim, but have not yet been able to do so.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

I tell them that the incidence of many diseases is not much higher in most Third World areas but that measles and meningitis are found in greater number elsewhere.

You cannot be serious.

In the exam rooms I say pretty much what I say in public: In the 21st Century, we have done such a good job vaccinating in every corner of the globe that one is safe traveling without vaccines.

And ...

I received a typhoid vaccine and my second Hep A prior to going to rural Nepal after last year’s earthquakes and had received my first Hep A prior to doing some clinic work in Ethiopia.

I'm having difficulty with this. 

Delphine, this data is easy to obtain.

Vaccination rates against almost all childhood illnesses in Peru run from 95-98%

Kenya, 85-90%

India, only mid-70s

France 95-99%

Poland 98-99%

Brazil 95-99%

USA 90-98%

Interesting numbers.

By Jay Gordon (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

The chilling effect of these attacks on speech is bad enough, but am I the only one alarmed by the seemingly increasing stridency and militancy of these anti-vax groups?

I'll just leave this here.

Great stuff, Delphine! But I think it supports what I'm saying regarding incidence rates.

By Jay Gordon (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

I tell them that the incidence of many diseases is not much higher in most Third World areas

Am I misunderstanding you?

@Stacy #138 – that is taken word for word from a review for this movie

A quick look suggests that part of #138 (which I'm not seeing in the review) is actually lifted from one Anthony Lawson (who doesn't use the "plump" part).

Are you reading the numbers differently than I? More measles, no more pertussis.

Because of vaccination, global rates of virtually all diseases are way down. That's how I read it.

By Jay Gordon (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

Bacon, you’ve always been a very unpleasant person and remain so.

Accuse me of plagiarism, but not lying. I was paraphrasing an infectious disease expert’s comment about overpraising flu vaccines.

As far as I can tell, this is either a non sequitur or addressed to the wrong person (who may be in my killfile).

@ Narad:

OT
but seriously... on television,
your town, tonight.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

So she’s not just a revisionist, she’s a stupid, ignorant revisionist.

Yeah, I've been countering Holocaust denial online for nearly two decades now, and I'm familiar with all the tropes. She can't even get her Holocaust denier tropes right. For one thing she misspelled Ernst Zündel's name and Zykon B. It also wasn't Zündel who did a documentary about testing the walls of the ruins of Auschwitz gas chambers for residue indicative of exposure to Zyklon B gas. It was Errol Morris, who did a documentary (Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.), which chronicled, among other things, Leuchter's incompetent testing of residues on Auschwitz walls.

The connection between Leuchter and Zündel is that Zündel hired Leuchter as an "expert witness" in his trial in Canada back in the 1980s for publishing works of Holocaust denial. He went to Auschwitz and other death camps to "prove" that the death chambers couldn't have been used as homicidal death chambers. While there, he took specimens without permission. At the time, it was over 50 years after the war; exposure to the elements for five decades guaranteed that he would find little, if any, evidence of cyanide exposure.

So, basically, not only is she a Holocaust denier, but she's a clueless Holocaust denier who can't even regurgitate the lies correctly.

Never mind. I think I misunderstood what you wrote. I'm sorry. Doped up on Nyquil.

Yeah. I was a kid and out of the country during Zundel's heyday but most Canadians of a certain age know of him, because of the trial. I didn't recall a film but I do remember the book.

Which makes me wonder if Adolf was such a bad person why he didn’t fight on the Russian front using gas, clearly with the western winds at his back he could have annihilated them and won the war.

You would think that's an attempt at extremely dark humour, but...no.

@Dr Jay Gordon - I found out the other day that my daughter-in-law has succumbed to vaccination's success and the frightening rhetoric of the anti-vaccine movement. She is supposedly "too much, too soon," according to her husband, and he can't honestly tell me which, if any, vaccines his daughters have received.

I found this out when one was cut in my chicken house and I remarked that at least at her young age she was probably up to date on tetanus. She probably doesn't have it, and her mommy and daddy are full-time farmers.

This is the real risk created by the anti-vaccine movement working so hard to create doubt and even refusal of vaccines.

You might want to be a little more strongly encouraging - as the influence of pseudoscience increases, your patients are at increasing risk of contracting an illness where "natural immunity" proponents have "succeeded," and vaccine uptake is too low for vaccines to be so incredibly successful.

OT
but seriously… on television,
your town, tonight.

I haven't turned on the television since last summer, and I only have OTA DTV. To what do you refer?

@ Narad:

It appears that protesters and loyal Trumpians clash prior to a planned event which was later cancelled
( @ University 'pavilion')

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

CLASHED
( but not rocking the Casbah)

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

It appears that protesters and loyal Trumpians clash[ed] prior to a planned event which was later cancelled

One thing I recently been perplexed by is that somebody has been plastering the (different, but university) neighborhood with advertising for some sort of Trump Concern Rally downtown on election day, March 15. Hang on, I'll arse myself to walk next door....

Here. My phone has a terrible camera, but I think you'll get the drift. There's no Web site listed, just "love" on and on.

"'Another thing,' I remember Billy Hitchcock saying, as he complained about being defined in the public mind by such pronouncements, 'is that I don’t get all this constant love, love, love stuff. I mean, maybe some people need to hear that all the time but I was brought up that way, weren’t you?'"

^ "I recently be." Or "have recently," whatever.

^^ Oh, no, wait, there does appear to be a URL above the giant, seemingly diseased on imaging, heart.

The holocaust is not an abstraction to me. I was taught by survivors. My mom's best friend had that tattoo on her arm. The small towns where my relatives grew up in Europe have no more Jews.

To see this hatred come alive again is to tap into the ugliest history memory I have. It is to bring to mind the nightmares of my childhood and the sad voice of my grandmother and the great aunts and other relatives she knew had been killed just for being Jewish.

I want to take a dozen baths just having shared electrons with that vile woman.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 11 Mar 2016 #permalink

I also noticed "Zyklone," and that spelling is interesting because "Zyklon" is German for "cyclone."

She also uses the grocer's apostrophe, e.g. "Jew's" as plural (Jews) and as a misspelling of the plural possessive (Jews'). And she calls Hitler by first name as one would do with a friend. "As my good buddy Adolph used to say..."

Does anyone here know of any civilian search tools that allow searching concatenated exact strings without modification by the search engine? Reason is, that particular Holocaust denier's idiosyncratic spellings could be used to uncover more of her material elsewhere.

By Gray Squirrel (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

In other anti-vaccine news...

Dan ( AoA today, his Weekly Wank) believes that Monsieur Trump's speech and actions betray diagnoses of - ultimately- mercury poisoning: he has all of the signs!

Like the other Donald T, who was amongst the first of the autistic people studied by Kanner , he probably was given huge doses of mercury-laden vaccines as an infant because his parents were well off in affluent post-war New York. This produced ADHD and symptoms of more serious conditions. Which are, of course, all on display for everyone to see.
It's SO simple really.

Interestingly, several of Dan's commenters disagree with him and actually call him out.

As I often remark, it is not a good idea to diagnose people if:
- you are a rank amateur
- your studies of clinical psychology do not exceed those of the average 12 year old student
- if you have never met them
- if they aren't seeking a diagnosis from you
- if you think your fol de rol will lead to more views of your crappy website.
- if your investigative reporting skills don't amount to a hill of beans.

( -btw- people do 'diagnose' others in everyday life because they want on some level to be able to predict how others will act. Everyone makes guesses about what's wrong with people with whom they interact. Nothing wrong with that.
It's called 'naïve science'.
In some cases, more naïve than others)

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

Mrs. Woo says (#167),

This is the real risk created by the anti-vaccine movement working so hard to create doubt and even refusal of vaccines.

MJD says,

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) is the litmus test.

http://www.nvic.org/NVIC-Vaccine-News/February-2016/vaccine-injury-clai…

Based on NVICP communication, it's getting easier for some to create doubt and refuse the use of some vaccines.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

@Dangerous Bacon #150:

I am trying to come up with a nicer term than “lie” to describe this claim, but have not yet been able to do so.

Terminological inexactitude, perhaps?
MJD
[Makes comment about NVICP, then links to the website of the National Vaccine (dis)Information Center.]
Oh, and you were doing so well.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

I do not follow #SXSW. I was not aware that part of the programming was today's Online Harassment Summit.

Online harassment is a reality that society can no longer ignore. This pervasive issue threatens to undermine all the positive possibilities and potential of our increasingly connected world. SXSW is proud to be a part of the movement that champions online civility while identifying solutions for a safer online community moving forward.

I will be interested in seeing if anything comes of the summit.

Does anyone here know of any civilian search tools that allow searching concatenated exact strings without modification by the search engine?

Umm, enclose the string in quotes? like this, Gray Squirrel #177:

"with the anthropomorphic smiley-face on front pumping out its siren song of dusky, magical mist"

By Mitzi Dupree (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

Julian Frost says (#180),

Makes comment about NVICP, then links to the website of the National Vaccine (dis)Information Center.

MJD says,

The yin and yang of vaccines.

While we're on the subject of vaccines, are there any vaccine-DNA-insight tests available?

Pathway Genomics has Medication-DNA-Insight which indicates which medications are optimal for a person based on their genetics.

https://www.pathway.com/medication-dna-insight/be

Q. Will the NVICP and NVIC be obsolete if such testing becomes available.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

Umm, enclose the string in quotes?

Occasionally Google seems to still do fuzzy searching for quoted strings. Under Search Tools changing All Results to Verbatim should solve that.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

Occasionally Google seems to still do fuzzy searching for quoted strings.

If one doesn't allow google scripts or cookies then one gets the caveat of *without quotes* such as:
"“with the anthropomorphic smiley-face on front pumping out its siren song of dusky, magical mist you sick fucks”

Results for with the anthropomorphic smiley-face on front pumping out its siren song of dusky, magical mist you sick fucks (without quotes):

http://www.google.com/search?q=%E2%80%9Cwith+the+anthropomorphic+smiley…

By Mitzi Dupree (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

Heather sent my husband a nasty pm on Facebook. She's threatening to call him a pedo and threatening to put up a site in my name calling me a racist because um . . . I'm Jewish and I don't hate Israel and I made some mild criticisms of Christian doctrine just like I criticize Jewish laws and. . . um Jews are all racists or something like that.

Apparently her poor daddy would faint if he knew his daughter was wearing that hood. So we're supposed to let her be a Nazi. We're just not supposed to call her a Nazi.

Or something like that. I think.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

I am surprised Herr Heather has not popped up here to roll in the chaos like a dog rolls in feces. Given her ego and virulent narcissism, commenting here would be far too tempting to resist.

By Kelly M Bray (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

@ Stacy. And of course if you report the message to FB it will be within *community standards*. FB's community standards are much like Berlin's in 1939.

By Kelly M Bray (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

You are totally right, Kelly.

This is the text of the pm my husband was sent:

Www.avwos.com coming soon stacyherlihy.com which since your wife like to call me a racist c word as do its going to feature her hate filled comments, racist views oh and her attacks on my 90 year old father. You know calling a WW2 veterans child a Nazi isn't going win people over. Nor is the fact that her hubby post pictures of naked little girls on his Facebook.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

Wow she is a nasty, nasty person.

"My grandfather is a WWII vet so I can't be an antisemite" sounds a lot like a "it's cool, I have a black friend."

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

If Orac could edit that post so as not to give her any more publicity, I would be quite appreciative. Thank you!

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

Stacy, take that to a lawyer ASAP, it is prima-facie evidence of extortion.

One of the definitions of extortion is a threat to denounce someone for a criminal act unless they comply with a demand. A threat to sue someone in civil court unless they comply with a demand is not extortion, but a threat of a criminal prosecution is.

To publicly make a claim that a person has child abuse photos, is to immediately invite a criminal investigation of that person. To threaten to make that claim unless the person complies with a demand, is extortion, and doing it over an interstate telecommunications medium makes it a federal crime.

First step: take it to your lawyer. Second step depending on what your lawyer says, or first step if you do not have a lawyer, take it to the FBI. Since it involves claims of child abuse photos, possession of which is a federal crime, that will raise it to a higher priority than other possible types of extortionate threats.

If there is any chance that the perp could cause the threat to disappear or be deleted, you need to take date/time-stamped screen shots now and preserve them on external storage media such as a disc or thumb drive.

-----

Re.search tools:

Yes, using quotation marks helps, but doesn't guarantee the outcome. Bad me, I had further-misspelled the original misspell as "Zyklone" with a K, when it was actually "Zyclone" with a C. On the search engine Ixquick.com this brings up three pages of results, including a couple on "Stormfront" which is a notorious white-supremacist site (and is also monitored by FBI for domestic terrorists).

The problem with Google is the "filter bubble effect" (see the article "filter bubble" on Wikipedia) where Google's AI tries to figure out what you "want" to see, and then give you more of that, rather than producing a "flat" or unbiased search result. For some odd reason, Google seems to be obsessed with mind-reading, and it makes for unreliable search results.

Another good search engine is DuckDuckGo (as with Ixquick, it doesn't attempt to mind-read), and it did not require using quote marks to produce exact string results, but once again the quantity is small, and the discussions on this page didn't come up.

If Nazi-sympathizer Heather's comments were made on Faceborg, they may not come up in any external search results.

Where "free speech" is defined by hate speech, freedom comes to be defined by hate. To my mind those are signs of a deeply pathological society.

By Gray Squirrel (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

It is disgusting, isn't it Grey Squirrel? FYI, I have never said anything about her father. If she hates being called a Nazi, she ought to finally take off the brownshirt.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

Thank you Stacey, Demise, and Allison for continuing to restore my faith in humanity. One day this balloon of hot air will pop and all that will be left is her embarrassing rants.....because the internet lives forever, and so will her shameful bigotry.

By Melissa Kane (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

Most of all thank you Liz Ditz for including my comment in your article.

By Melissa Kane (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

To be fair, there are plenty of groups that hate Jews; being a rank antisemite doesn't neccessarily make one a Nazi.

That said, "I'm not a Nazi; it's just that Jews are evil" does not make for a very convincing argument.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 12 Mar 2016 #permalink

@capnkrunch

Indeed I have leaned that what author Caitlin R. Keirnan terms 'liberal intolerance' has thrown up some pretty nasty stuff, including referring to the industrialised murder of Jews, Homosexuals, Roma (Gypsies), ecetera by the Nazi Regime (eg The Holocaust) as "...white on white crime..." and presumably thus of no real importance or interest.

Caitlins full post, from which I've taken the term can be read at her blog via the link below.

http://greygirlbeast.livejournal.com/1167779.html

OT, but for any lurker wondering about it;

Which makes me wonder if Adolf was such a bad person why he didn’t fight on the Russian front using gas, clearly with the western winds at his back he could have annihilated them and won the war.

By her logic, because people succeed at killing themselves in their garage with their car's fumes*, everybody downwind of any trafic-heavy megalopolis should just drop dead.

Accounts of the WW1 showed that the use of lethal gas in an open field was less than efficient, especially if the winds don't cooperate and send the gases back to your lines. That didn't stop both French and German armies to try repeatedly, and maim plenty of people in the process, notably with mustard gas. But it may have made the German high command leery of using combat gases on the scale of Siberia.
It works better if there is something to contain the gases and the targeted people, like trenches. Or a closed room.

Since WW2, highly neurotoxic gases have been developed, so the dispersing effect of winds is less of a factor on ground zero.

* speaking of this, killing by filling a room of people with carbon monoxide, either bottled in advance or generated on-site by a diesel truck's exhaust, was also a method used by the nazi regime, at least in one death camp and also in their forced euthanasia campaign in hospitals.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 13 Mar 2016 #permalink

While we’re on the subject of vaccines, are there any vaccine-DNA-insight tests available?

Pathway Genomics has Medication-DNA-Insight which indicates which medications are optimal for a person based on their genetics.

Looks like you've given Orac a topic to blog about, Michael.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 13 Mar 2016 #permalink

* speaking of this, killing by filling a room of people with carbon monoxide, either bottled in advance or generated on-site by a diesel truck’s exhaust, was also a method used by the nazi regime, at least in one death camp and also in their forced euthanasia campaign in hospitals.

Actually, carbon monoxide from truck or tank engine exhaust was the more common method of killing used by the Nazis early on.after the Holocaust turned exterminationist.Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka used CO gas in gas chambers, while Chelmno used mobile gas vans. e Stutthof, Mauthausen, Sachsenhausen, and Ravensbrueck, although not designed as death camps, all also maintained small gas chambers used to eliminate prisoners deemed "unfit" to work" that used Zykon B.

I meant editing post 191 which brings attention to her ugly little site attempting to defame many of us. I hate to think that I'm helping to bring any traffic to her. She's just managed to unnerve me. Chasing after me is one thing but going after my husband is so . . . evil. What's next? Will she start cyber-bullying my thirteen year old daughter?

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 13 Mar 2016 #permalink

I've seen this kind of thing elsewhere too. A Facebook page called MUH men's rights activism, which pokes fun at MRAs was shut down because the screenshots it had of vile threats by MRAs were reported by MRAs as hate speech.

Anyone wanting to try searching for specific word strings might want to try Google's advanced search. Just add /advanced_search to the end of www.google.com. The page also has a link to the search settings page, which lets you mitigate the filter-bubble effect by editing or turning off your search history. (You can also change your location, which is useful if you're looking for a business in a different geographical area.) Google has a lot of interesting hidden bits.

In other antivaccine crank news, Jake breaks almost 6 months of radio silence to inform the world that Dr. Ben Carson has endorsed The Donald for president.

It's amusing to see former Republican candidates submerging what remains of their ethics and endorsing Trump, in hopes of receiving handouts from a Trump administration.

Ben Carson probably has dreams of being Surgeon General, although being a former surgeon doesn't remotely qualify him for the job.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 13 Mar 2016 #permalink

Re: search tools

There are times when one doesn't want to see the top links in the search results -- links to buy stuff, links to Yahoo! Answers, links for *transformer* that turn up cars that turn into robots.

https://millionshort.com/

enjoy.

By Mitzi Dupree (not verified) on 13 Mar 2016 #permalink

@Dangerous Bacon,

It's especially ironic since not so long ago there was open talk of Trump running as an independent if the Republicans didn't pick him.

Ohio governor Kasich seems to be the holdout from that bandwagon.

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 13 Mar 2016 #permalink

All presidential candidates have promised party leadership they will support the eventual party candidate. In party politics solidarity with the party is important, at least on big things like this.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 13 Mar 2016 #permalink

The page also has a link to the search settings page, which lets you mitigate the filter-bubble effect by editing or turning off your search history.

Ahh. But then one must be slapped with Google cookies, scripts, and...errm .. features, Beryl #207.

Those 'features' are making people stupid, or at least making them appear to be stupid when someone stops typing every other character to stare at autosuggest or flittering Google Instant. Also, the autosuggest 'feature' is censorship; I can't recall a specific example but there were times when typing a naughty word like pirate b.. is all it took to make the suggestion box go blank.

Re: Blocking Google Instant
Postby Disgruntled » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:42 pm

I've now blocked Google in all its forms from every computer in my home. I'm tired of being bombarded with the negative CRAP that shows up in their stupid suggestions/google instant. It's awful and just by performing a simple search I'm bombarded with the lowest, negative, and most ignorant crap people search for. I don't want it flashing before my eyes just because I'm performing a simple search.

I've read hundreds (literally) of suggestions, complaint, and so on on how to disable Google's invasive features. It's clear that Google doesn't give a flying fluck what their users want, think, or wish. Features are forced on to users like it or not, and complaints go unacknowledged.

I'm tired of this. I've blocked them from every computer in my home and voila - no more "suggestions". My computer and home are peaceful again.

Fluck you Google.

https://adblockplus.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7643#p60642

By Mitzi Dupree (not verified) on 13 Mar 2016 #permalink

Yes, using quotation marks helps, but doesn’t guarantee the outcome.

Well I've learned something new today, Gray Squirrel #194.

if you want to get really specific you can specify the proximity of your search terms with the undocumented AROUND operator.

http://lifehacker.com/5707961/use-the-around-operator-in-google-searche…
and also

If you search for the same thing often (e.g. yourself, maybe?), you can turn that search into an RSS feed and get notified of new results. This will prevent you from combing through results to find new additions

http://lifehacker.com/5739284/the-best-ways-to-tweak-your-search-when-g…

Now you can stalk your mark and know pretty quick when they post some arrangement of those "idiosyncratic spellings" all you want.

Mitzi Dupree @ 213: I've also blocked Google on my network, for all the usual security reasons, and that I do not like feeding my life to their AIs.

Speaking of Google's AIs and the whole subculture that stuff is connected with, here's some world-class quackery for you, preying on the hope / faith / wishes of a young brain cancer patient:

http://thebaffler.com/salvos/everybody-freeze-pein

"[Kim] Suozzi, an agnostic libertarian and aspiring neuroscientist [she was 20-something at the time she was diagnosed with brain cancer], began taking cryonics seriously after discovering the work of the futurologist Ray Kurzweil [chief of engineering at Google] through a cognitive science class at Truman State University in Missouri. After surgery failed to stop the growth of her brain tumor, Suozzi determined that upon death she—or rather, her head—would be frozen and stored for decades [at Alcor], centuries, or millennia in the hope that one day, diligent, wonder-working doctors would transplant her consciousness into a new, healthy body, or perhaps onto a high-capacity hard drive...."

[Items in brackets added from other parts of the story. Item re. Kurzweil is widely known and easily checked.]

The whole Alcor / immortality thing deserves some serious insolence. Especially since it's become popular among the Silly Con Valley crowd.

By Gray Squirrel (not verified) on 13 Mar 2016 #permalink

I read Liz Ditz's article and it got me wondering, has anyone gotten law enforcement involved? The harassment Melissa described strikes me as something that requires escalation far beyond Facebook complaints.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 13 Mar 2016 #permalink

she—or rather, her head—would be frozen and stored for decades...

Ahh Gray Squirrel #216, I've seen that one -- Cold Lazarus.

Dr. Emma Porlock and her colleagues, attempting to unlock the secrets of human memory for the Masdon drug empire, get a cryogenically stored 400-year-old human head to project its memories through virtual reality displays. But Porlock and her team are chronically under-funded, and she may have to go around Masdon to a media sleaze merchant to get the money she needs to maintain the project. But an even more complex world of secret police, RON (Reality-Or-Nothing) riots, and murder is going on outside the lab. And the deeper Porlock goes into the frozen memories of the writer Daniel Feeld, the more twisted the labyrinth of intrigue becomes.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115140/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

It was written by Dennis Potter as he was aware that he was dying of pancreatic cancer. It's got a great cast and it's a great story though there is a whiff of BBC set *cheezyness* interspersed throughout.

This dystopic is the ultimate in voyerism, reading the head. There is one particulary harrowing scene of his conciousness being dragged back from the end of the Tunnel of Light upon dropping into the cryogenic drink -- Somehow, this opening seems to set the tone of the cost and degree of such heady exploitation.

"I am on the wrong diet; I am being made to eat and drink my own thoughts... Nooooooo!"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfEgdCu5RSM

By Mitzi Dupree (not verified) on 14 Mar 2016 #permalink

Oh look, Facebook is targeting an Australian Aboriginal woman for offending ... something. Not vaccine-related but it is depressingly familiar.

I gave a speech in good faith on International Women's Day, a day Facebook saw fit to acknowledge with a tacky little welcome image. My only crime has been to share that keynote when it has become available. Through their actions, they have additionally, as well as demeaned culture and women, demeaned my words and turned them into something they are not. My words, while an empowering rallying cry, were never meant to be used in this way. I resent the fact that Facebook, through their lack of cultural knowledge and respect for women, have turned them into this. They fail to provide a safe place for Aboriginal people and for women. Indeed, through the selective applying of their "community standards", they continually allow it to be an unsafe space.

http://blackfeministranter.blogspot.com/2016/03/statement-regarding-fac…

Re Denice Walter @ #109

Australia, like the USA, is a federation. Victoria is one of our States. There are Health Ministers in each State Government as well as the Government of Australia. (By way of example, you would probably not refer to "the Governor of America (sic Florida)". )
Jill Hennessey is an elected member of the current Victorian Government, so good luck to a bunch of American nutjobs trying to target her out of office. I can't speak for Facebook, but the Australian legal system holds freedom of speech as a relative right, not an absolute one, in which robust defamation laws do a reasonable job of managing irresponsible and untruthful utterances. And, yes, Ms Hennessey supports vaccination with the full weight of Government behind her: http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/update-vaccinations-before-heading-back-t… . There has been a recent chickenpox outbreak at a particular school which seems to be linked to a local anti-vax cluster, happily the medical authorities are trying to encourage vaccinations. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/eighty-children-get-chickenpox-at-bru…

By Elizabeth Barnett (not verified) on 14 Mar 2016 #permalink

To continue my post #208

Jake has another new post, announcing that "Autism Investigated" has endorsed Donald J. Trump for President of the United States.

No doubt that if this was reported by the liberal media, all other autism advocacy organizations would follow AI's bold leadership, and the election would be all but over. /sarcasm

@ Johnny:

Oh that's rich.
I expect that he'll somehow try to get his name associated with that idiot: it seems Jake likes to ride someone's coattails - Andy, Olmsted et al, Hooker, whomever- so why not DT?

Lots of money** and lots of crazy.

** a LOMBARD if I ever saw one! ( and that's not a person domiciled in Lombardy, Italy -btw-)

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Mar 2016 #permalink

This is my first post on this site. Sorry for being such a late-arrival. Have been an avid fan & reader of this pro-science blog for at least the past year. Finally felt I needed to make a comment as this topic is relevant to my own experience.

I used to be on Facebook myself under a pseudonym, actually my cat's name, as I had set him up a Facebook page to just show how awesome he is. Essentially, I was living vicariously through my cat on Facebook, because as a professional & a physician, I didn't want my real name searchable & my personal business thereby plastered all over the social media site.

And apparently, Facebook really doesn't like that. One of their policies is that people are supposed to use their real names when creating a Facebook profile, they say, so as to prevent "trolls" from the shameless harassing of others without any consequences or recourse. Of course, the real reason for the policy is to ensure that every advertising dollar can be assuredly marketed to a genuinely real person. But even that terribly self-righteous Facebook creator deep down knows this is complete bull & a disingenuous explanation.

Anyway, I was browsing a favorite Facebook page of mine at the time, "Refutations of Anti-Vaccine Memes", when I learned that the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) was making ludicrous unfounded statements again.

And thus, I fought back by commenting on the NVIC's Facebook page, refuting their misguided interpretations with sound evidence & a logic-based rebuttal. I also called the NVIC out for being a truly anti-vaccine organization rather than an organization centered around promoting accurate vaccine information, as they like to spin it & portray themselves.

Lo & behold, my cat's Facebook account was suspended by the next day, no questions asked, due to complaints received for using what Facebook considered a fake profile name. In order to restore my account, they were demanding that I send them a photocopy of my driver's license ID as well as another legal form of identification to prove who I am & that a real person was behind the account. What?!!? I don't even need to give that detailed of personal information to the government when asked usually. And it would be a cold day in hell before I ever appeased the Facebook overlords with that kind of information, which in all honesty, they have absolutely no business in even asking.

I have never returned to Facebook since, & I will also never support Facebook ever again as a result of their misguided policies & complaint reporting procedures. And they will never be able to market to me again. I now loathe the company & everything it stands for, as it allowed immature disingenuous anti-vaccine loons to censor me without question. Shameful.

By Cam the Cat (not verified) on 23 Mar 2016 #permalink

I use a pseudonym on Facebook and thus far have had no problems with it. I do have a contact at HQ, though.

Like the above commenter mentioned, it's not uncommon for professionals and those in academia to use a pseudonym on Facebook for privacy reasons. I use mine in part to keep the pro-homophobia Russians off my trail. (Long story.)

Lo & behold, my cat’s Facebook account was suspended by the next day, no questions asked, due to complaints received for using what Facebook considered a fake profile name. In order to restore my account, they were demanding that I send them a photocopy of my driver’s license ID as well as another legal form of identification to prove who I am & that a real person was behind the account.

Hmph. My first pseudonym merely had to identify its friends based on random photos that they had posted at one time or another and then change to a slightly less preposterous pseudonym, but that was a while ago. I pretty much gave up on FB nearly a year ago.

My youngest used her paternal grandmother's last name for her Facebook profile. My kids' last name is uncommon, so they are quite easy to find. Which happened to my middle child who in high school was stalked by a girl in another high school (she actually called to apologize).

Youngest child quit Facebook when she became unsatisfied with their security measures. The middle child just maximized the security of his Facebook page and only communicates with people he knows.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I have screenshots of Heather admitting how she is gaming the system, and admitting her targeting and harassment of me.

By Allison Hagood (not verified) on 30 Mar 2016 #permalink

I've been banned for a week from Facebook because of the following post. I hope the powers that be are happy there, doing the bidding of a neo-nazi anti-vax lunatic:

A few years ago when I first had the idea of writing a book on vaccines to share all I had learned about the subject I thought I would tackle the project myself. I thought I could handle it. I hadn't written a book before but I'm a reasonably good writer and heaven knows I've bought and read enough books to open up my own public library at least twice over.

Then I remembered something.

I remembered that many people who are opposed to vaccines aren't particularly nice. I remembered that these are the people who call the HPV vaccine, a vaccine that can literally prevent cancer, (YES CANCER!) a vaccine that is given to ten year olds "the slut shot." They harass Dr. Offit, (a personal hero of mine) the inventor of a vaccine that has literally helped save thousands of lives, so much that he doesn't dare do a book tour.

Yeah.

Before the book, I'd been writing and commenting on this subject for over a decade. During that time I'd been called all kinds of names. To my shock (because who the heck thinks saving kids from polio and pertussis is controversial?) I was called the kind of names that make you look at someone like they eat kittens for breakfast.

So I found a co-author. A brave, fierce, amazing, wonderfully intelligent co-author. I found someone passionate and devoted who I knew would be able to able to stand up in public with me.

And here we are a few years later in a place I never quite expected to be. As we start to work on a second book, I am sadly forced to write about my dismay and horror at the hours of hell that Allison has endured at the hands of those who refuse to remember history or let science be at our side.

In her own words:

"Since co-authoring a book for parents on vaccines ("Your Baby's Best Shot: Why Vaccines are Safe and Save Lives"), I have been cyberstalked, cyberharassed, doxed, and threatened by anti-vaccine advocates. My personal home address was published on social media. My employer has been contacted numerous times by anti-vaccine advocates demanding that I be disciplined, fired, or silenced from engaging in vaccine advocacy. Death and rape threats have been posted against me. I am under almost constant harassment by anti-vaccine advocates fraudulently reporting posts and photos on my social media pages."

This is the world we live in: a world in which a vaccine advocate -- a person who believes that children deserve to be protected against horrible preventable diseases, diseases that maim, deafen and literally kill -- that person is allowed by our society to be harassed at work at every turn.

I can only stand back and offer my support to someone who does not deserve to be treated this way. Please join me in standing for Allison Hagood as she stands up to those who shun science and threaten us all.

By Stacy Herlihy (not verified) on 03 Jun 2016 #permalink