Anti-Vaxxers Panic After Learning Facebook Could Shut Down Groups

Anti-Vaxxers Panic After Learning Facebook Could Shut Down Groups February 12, 2019
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Members of Stop Mandatory Vaccination are freaking out after hearing the news that health officials are asking Facebook to shut down their group. An article published earlier today by the Guardian shared statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics and exposed the false information shared within the groups. Larry Cook’s group, Stop Mandatory Vaccination, is prominently featured in the story, and now members are afraid their group might disappear.

In the article published this morning by the Guardian, Dr. Wendy Swanson spokeswoman for the AAP spoke out about Facebook allowing anti-vaccine groups to share inaccurate and misleading information about vaccines.

“Facebook should prioritise dealing with the threat to human health when falsehoods and misinformation are shared. This isn’t just self-harm, it’s community harm.”

Dr. Swanson went on to say she has met with Facebook to strategize about how to stop misinformation from spreading so rapidly on their platform.

“Parents deserve the truth. If they are being served up something that is not true it will likely increase their levels of anxiety and fear and potentially change their uptake of vaccines, which is dangerous,”

By late morning, the article had been posted multiple times within the group. Initially, the response by members was one of disbelief.  Many suggested that Facebook was going to bend to Big Pharma. Several claimed that Big Pharma needed to suppress the groups because the groups had become too efficient at spreading the ‘truth.’

By mid-afternoon, initial reactions of disbelief and frustration changed to fear. A member posted and tagged Larry Cook about the possibility of the group shutting down.

Comments started to explode as members feared the loss of their community. Several members suggested moving their group to other social media platforms like MeWe. Other suggested using the Russian social media site VK.

Others suggested changing the name of the group. A name change wouldn’t change the fact that Facebook can still see the exchanges within the group. However, anti-vaxxers aren’t known for using logic or intelligence in their problem-solving.

While dozens of members problem solved a way to trick Facebook, others expounded that Facebook and Big Pharma were involved in an elaborate plan to suppress the truth.

Then the most disturbing comment came in the form of a link to a video shared by Dr. Tenpenny who hosts the page “Dr. Tenpenny on Vaccines and Current Videos.”

The video is 26 minutes of fear-mongering dialogue about Facebook censoring the truth about vaccines. She uploaded the video in response to the Guardian article.

She reminds her followers that banning conversations about vaccines on Facebook is a form of censorship. Tenpenny reinforces the conspiracy theory that vaccines are not checked for safety and part of the government system to control and harm people.

Dr. Tenpenny is Doctor of Osteopathy. She’s all about alternative health and believes Vitamin C can provide as much protection from the measles as a vaccine. Naturally, she uses her page to promote fear-mongering information and sell her products.

As public pressure mounts on Facebook, there is no question the social media giant will have to respond. Currently, the United States is facing measles outbreaks across the country.

Clark County, Washington has 53 confirmed cases of the measles.

Rockland County, New York has reported 130 cases of the measles to the CDC.

Monroe County, New York has confirmed 7 cases of the measles.

New York City has confirmed 67 cases of measles within the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn.

Houston, Texas has seven confirmed cases of the measles.

According to the CDC, the outbreaks are a result of travelers bringing the virus back to the states after traveling to Israel and Ukraine which have large outbreaks at this time.

Vaccination rates have dropped consistently over the past five years. Facebook groups like Stop Mandatory Vaccination have provided a community that has promoted and spread fake news, conspiracy theories, and has enabled charlatans like Larry Cook to exploit and manipulate scared parents.

Anti-Vaccine propaganda spread through Facebook has real-world consequences. With five areas of the country facing outbreaks, there is no doubt more states will have outbreaks this year. Until vaccination rates around the U.S. increase, many areas remain at risk.

Larry Cook and his group members have a right to be concerned.  They may be crying ‘censorship,’ but the information they share is not scientifically based nor consistent with the CDC, WHO, FDA, or any major medical organization in the world.

Vaccines continue to be safe and effective in stopping the spread of preventable illnesses.

Finally, Larry Cook’s response to members was to join his email list. Typical, Larry, very typical.


*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.

She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.

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  • Raging Bee

    Other suggested using the Russian social media site VK.

    That makes perfect sense, since a lot of anti-vax propaganda is coming from Russia in the first place.

  • Martin Penwald

    Just a little observation : “Big Pharma” makes more money treating unvaccinated people than selling vaccines. Their interest would be to finance anti-vaxxers.

  • Absolutely!

  • JanJohansen

    Maybe they do? 🙂

    How about turning it all around, and accusing the antivaxxers of being paid by “Big Pharma” to turn up their profits on non-vaccine drugs?

  • WallofSleep

    Russian psyops have been found to be working both sides of the fence on that one, using multiple accounts on the same ip to argue both the pro and anti side.

  • WallofSleep

    “Guess we don’t have freedom of speech”

    But I don’t have to guess that this person is an abject moron.

  • WallofSleep

    Bwahahaha! You’re not entitled to a free platform to spew your lies, baby.

  • frostysnowman

    I like it!

  • That’s good but what about parasites like psychic mediums and televangelists?

  • Banrion
  • Beth Clarkson

    You claim that “Vaccination rates have dropped consistently over the past five years.” Do you have a cite for this? I ask because I just read at article at Slate that claims otherwise. “Vaccination rates for measles, nationwide, aren’t going down. They’ve been very stable for a while now. In 2017, the most recent year for which data are available, 91.5 percent of the nation’s children below the age of 3 had received their first dose of the MMR vaccine. Five years ago, in 2014, that figure was also 91.5 percent. Go back to 2010, and you’ll find it was 91.5 percent. What about 2005? Again, 91.5 percent. ”

  • Matt Shiel

    Freedom of speech is freedom of speech.

  • WallofSleep

    Freedom of speech doesn’t entitle you to a free platform on someone else’s property.

  • Teah Al

    Ok so stating that vaccines can have side effects, some more serious than others in select groups is “spreading false information”? What is the infamous vaccine court is paying settlements for? So if the infirmation that some side effects of vaccines can be disabling not false then what’s the offence? Besides cutting into the vaccine manufactuters bottom line?

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Ohhh this is just too much. These peep are SERIOUSLY suggesting that they move website to RUSSIA to avoid ‘censorship’. How fucking stupid do you have to be?

    Granted, I do kinda agree about the free speech issue. If it was FB alone saying ‘hey, we think your site is BS and we don’t like it on our platform’ it would be one thing, but when GOVERNMENT gets involved and tells FB to shut down a page, um.. unless the page is doing something actually illegal, then NOPE, bad idea. To paraphrase a guy from long ago, “I may think what you say is totes full of shit, but I will defend with somebody else’s life your right to spout that shit in public”

    But the irony of people suggesting the site move to Russia just gives me all sorts of giggle fits.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Except as mentioned, FB is being pressured by government funded groups to shut this FB site down. That IS government censorship. I may hate the message this prick is spreading, but he DOES have a right in our constitution to spread it. There is a line between a platform saying ‘fuck off idiot’ and government telling a platform to shut somebody up

  • that’s not freedom of speech issue. Freedom of speech is protection against the government. Not using a private platform to spread your garbage

  • Cozmo the Magician

    But this IS government trying to shut them up. If it was FB alone saying, piss off asshole, I would have no problem. But it is GOVERNMENT that is trying to force FB to shut this page down. And THAT is wrong.

    If you visit my home and start talking about the joys of being in the KKK, I can kick you the fuck out. But if a cop comes to my door after i let you in and tells me I can’t let you talk about the happy fun time you have in private, that cop is WRONG.

    Like I said, if it was JUST FB giving Cook the boot because he is an asshole, I would have no prob. But when goverment is behind the push it is wrong.

  • the AAP is not the government – period.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Umm, IIRC it was your own article that said ‘offcials’ and ‘agencies’ were pressuring FB. One of us is wrong. If in fact NO government agency or official is involved then either you typed wrong , or I read wrong.

    OTOH, IF in FACT any government agency or official is pushing this, then 1st ammendment. FULL STOP.

  • The AAP is an official organization – but not government sponsored.

  • Mike Stevens

    You are correct – overall the MMR vaccination rate is stable.
    However there is great variability within communities, and pockets of low vaccination exist, and in some of these vaccination rates have declined significantly (as in Minnesota Somalis where rates went from 95% to 40% following the very helpful “advice” of the antivax zealots including Wakefield, …only to be followed by a major measles outbreak)

  • My children’s elementary school has an 80% immunization rate. A public school in Washington state. Another one in own has a 60% immunization rate. That is not stable. That is an epidemic in the making.

  • Can you show me where you got the idea that the AAP is government funded? I have looked at their financial reports and am not seeing it.

    Plus, they are highly motivated to protect children. That is their mission. This includes protecting children from misinformation.

  • Kevin K

    Sorry friend, but you’re mistaken in this instance. The AAP is a private group, not funded by the government. “Officials” of the AAP are not government employed.

    The government-funded groups that would have skin in this game would be the CDC, the NIH (and their sub-agencies), and the Public Health Service, which is a separate division of the Health and Human Services department. I can’t imagine any of them … officially or otherwise, advocating such a position.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Sorry, stanger, but those government funded agencies ARE putting pressure on FB.