Online activity demonstrates the extent to which Facebook remains an important organizational tool for the anti-vaccine movement, though The company’s repeated pledges to curb the Coronavirus Misleading information and confirmation that it has removed more than 12 million pieces of this content. It also shows how social networking services can enhance the coping methods of these people Committed to wrong thoughts about The dangers of immunization With the escalation of mass vaccination efforts.
“I am worried that this is the next stage of their anti-vaccine activity, going to places where the vaccine is being distributed and disrupting there,” said Tara C. Smith, an epidemiologist at Kent State University in charge of vaccine resistance. .
She said such activity could resemble protests at abortion clinics or demonstrations against stay-at-home orders on the state Capitol, a prospect that worries public health officials as they aim to speed up vaccinations in a race against more and possibly more infections. Fatal Variables are now confirmed In this country.
Facebook spokeswoman Danny Lever said the company was reviewing the page and will take action against any content that violates our policies.
“Shop Mask Free Los Angeles” is publishing “Unmasked Shopping” opportunities, in violation of state and local rules that require covering the face outside the home. It publishes videos of in-house confrontations in Southern California, where anti-mask extremists photograph themselves dealing with other clients and law enforcement. In the videos, the people behind the smartphones stand up against what they see as “discrimination” and “medical tyranny.” A message sent to the page has not been answered.
The page itself only has about 3,000 followers, but the notice about what it called “PROTEST / March” on the mass pollination site was widely shared on Facebook groups and on bug-pinned pages Ideas about masks, such as that they restrict breathing and that the constitution prohibits their use. Online forum names include “Anti-Mask REVOLUTION!” And “Unmask California.”
The technology giant committed itself at the end of last year to strengthen its policies against misinformation related to the Coronavirus. This included a pledge to Removing the wrong information On the safety, effectiveness, components and side effects of Coronavirus vaccines, as well as banning ads that discourage vaccinations.
However, in a sign of loopholes in the company’s application, the “About” section of the anti-mask page promoting Saturday’s protest included a link to a website dedicated to “EpidemicA novel accusing mysterious elites of enriching themselves with coronavirus engineering and a vaccine.
The 26-minute documentary presenting the groundless theory went viral on Facebook in the spring before the company moved to wipe it off its platform. When a follow-up surfaced in August, Facebook banned users from posting it.
But the anti-mask page directs users to a “planned” website that displays a wide range of disinformation videos. Some links to videos are broken. The site raises allegations in the central format of the video, Judy Mikovitz, A former National Cancer Institute scientist made a series of distorted allegations.
Ellsworth S. Fortman, the assistant chief of fire in Los Angeles, said that while scorching temperatures and high winds interfered with testing and other aspects of the response to the pandemic, he never expected anti-vaccine activists to thwart vaccinations to others.
In addition to promoting the demonstration on Facebook, Fortman said, in the days leading up to the protest, he also received news of its advertisement on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. One of the posts sent to the department, which he shared with the Washington Post, came from an account called “socaltrumptrain.” She announced plans for a “Freedom March Against Lockdown” at Dodger Stadium.
The protest included only about 50 people waving banners and chanting anti-vaccination slogans. But their presence was disrupted enough to force authorities to close the stadium gates, delaying thousands of motorists in line to get a vaccine. Officials said that ultimately did not affect the number of people who were able to take shots. No arrests were made.
Diana Sheba, president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, said that especially in Los Angeles, a coronavirus hotspot, any effort to throw barriers to vaccination threatens to undermine the response to the pandemic. She said the disruption could not come at a worse time, as medical workers race to stay one step ahead of the virus variants.
“It’s unfair to those who want to get a vaccine,” she said.
Merrill Kornfield contributed to this report.