tech

Facebook bans false claims about COVID-19 vaccines

32 Comments
By Katie Paul and Elizabeth Culliford

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© Thomson Reuters 2020.

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More Chinese style censorship by big tech in tandem with big pharma and global elites.

Think and act for yourself according to your own conscience.

-2 ( +12 / -14 )

Think and act for yourself 

By not listening to actual doctors and scientists? Seems like a crazy idea to me.

In this day and age, erasing blatantly false information from social networks is actually a life-saving act.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

What if it is a controversial or untested claim?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@Jsapc

By not listening to actual doctors and scientists? Seems like a crazy idea to me.

I've had ongoing experience with the medical system due to a serious illness for 25 years. There have been many times the doctors were either plain wrong, negligent, prescribed wrong medicines, etc. and it affected me negatively.

I've learned to be respectful and appreciative of them, but at the same time, ask questions, do my own research and make informed decisions which has several times led to better outcomes than the doctors advice.

Medical experts are to be respected but they are not gods. They can be wrong. Each person must make informed decisions based on a variety of opinions, and such opinions should be freely available.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

I've had ongoing experience

Your experience does not make a sound a basis for actual governmental and societal policy.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

@Jsapc

I think we live in a free democracy where people have human rights and thus very person must make informed decisions based on a variety of opinions, and that such opinions should be freely available without censorship.

Do you agree?

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Do you agree?

When those opinions are based on fale scientific data and influence people to make life-threatening decisions for themselves, their families or society in general, or if those opinions fuel hate or promote actual violence, for example, I don't think they should be "freely available", no. In the past, when debate was actually possible, I would have encouraged it, but not in today's world, unfortunately.

If the vast, vast majority of scientists tell you that climate change is real and is already becoming an epic disaster, your experience and your opinion don't matter. If the vast, vast majority of doctors tell you to wear a mask and get vaccinated so that we can eradicate covid, your experience and your opinion, again, don't matter.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Do you agree?

I am all for informed decisions, but I don't agree with allowing lies to be published as the truth. That results in a misinformed decision that can have bad consequences.

If there is a discussion of someone who is concerned about taking a vaccine developed in less than a year when many vaccines take up to 10 years, that seems reasonable. I read a story like that in the WP this week. Seemed completely reasonable.

However, allowing complete falsehoods, like Bill Gates is going to put a chip in you with the vaccine, is bonkers. Heard that from someone over the weekend, and I told them to stay off of Facebook. Before this kind of wackadoodle information was limited to the tabloids with the alien abduction and Elvis spotted alive articles. Now it is harder to spot.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

@Jsapc

When those opinions are based on false scientific data

@viking68

I don't agree with allowing lies to be published as the truth

Who gives you or any tech company, government or anyone else the right to dictate to us what truth is?

Shouldn't each individual have the human right to decide which information to believe or act on?

And isn't the freedom to express any viewpoint also a human right and the cornerstone of a true democracy?

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Who gives you or any tech company, government or anyone else the right to dictate to us what truth is?

If, on the particular subject of the Covid-19, you feel that doctors are "dictating you" what the truth is, you're more than free to spend 5 to 10 years studying medicine and virology in order to come up with better diagnosis and treatment and one day develop your own vaccine. I encourage you to do so.

Until then, you are absolutely free to express your opinions, but people are also completely free to tell you that they are at best goofy and at worst criminally dangerous. And if they are criminally dangerous, private companies are also completely free to censor them (that's the basis of capitalism). Because, hey, why should you dictate what Facebook can and can't let people read on their own platform? It's a private company and owes you absolutely nothing.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

And isn't the freedom to express any viewpoint also a human right and the cornerstone of a true democracy?

Give me liberty or give me death, but taken to such an extreme that is breaks any meaning. I've seen too much of this recently (Trump and his minions inciting violence against others, a private security guard stabbed 27 times because he told two women that they couldn't enter a store without a mask), and it is shocking to see liberty or democracy as a justification for outright lies that lead to violence.

Any viewpoint is not a human right or a cornerstone of democracy.

Scaring my elderly mother with lies about computer chips in vaccines is beyond free speech.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Facebook Inc on Thursday said it would remove false claims about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, following a similar announcement by Alphabet Inc's YouTube in October.

We should not assume that public health experts are honest or correct.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

@viking68

Any viewpoint is not a human right or a cornerstone of democracy.

So who decides? You? Of course not. That's up to the individual. That's a human right.

Scaring my elderly mother with lies about computer chips in vaccines is beyond free speech.

So theoretically you can scare my mum with your views but I can't scare your mum with mine?

I don't mean anything personal, just wanna advocate for the the basic human right for ALL people to share and access information, to decide for themselves what is true or not and how to respond. Fair, don't you think,

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

@Jsapc

private companies are also completely free to censor

Agreed.

Governments are also free to repeal Section 230 type protections of such companies and such companies are free to pay billions in subsequent lawsuit losses and to lose millions of customers who are getting sick of them.

Censorship and treating customers as stupid usually evetually backfires.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

I've had ongoing experience with the medical system due to a serious illness for 25 years. There have been many times the doctors were either plain wrong, negligent, prescribed wrong medicines, etc. and it affected me negatively.

And to find out if they are wrong or not we have the scientific method, the same that is being used to judge if a claim is truthful or not. You want to be exposed to false and misleading information? you can do it, but expecting private companies to allow that information on their platform is not rational.

Who gives you or any tech company, government or anyone else the right to dictate to us what truth is?

Science is the one that says what is truthful or not, and that is because it is the best method we have found to do precisely that. Companies do not decide, they just listen to the scientific experts and their data.

If there is a discussion of someone who is concerned about taking a vaccine developed in less than a year when many vaccines take up to 10 years, that seems reasonable

Even this claim that seems reasonable is based on a mistaken assumption. Vaccines can take a lot of time to develop when they have to improve over what is already available, or against a disease that has made impossible to develop one until now even after many decades of scientific advancement. But for a new disease that just appeared and that has none of those special difficulties a year is a perfectly reasonable amount of time, specially because it is consumed in the testing for safety and efficacy part, there have been other vaccines that have been tested for similar amount of time and are in use now without problems. It is reasonable not to know this, but for anybody trying to report about this being a problem it is expected to research at least this much.

We should not assume that public health experts are honest or correct.

But at least we can assume the are more honest than people convicted for fraud, medical malpractice or scientific misconduct that say the experts are wrong.

The best thing is to go directly to the scientific data and see if it there is any problem with it. The best studies are much more likely to be truthful than bad studies, and people without any studies just repeating their personal beliefs are more likely to be wrong than even bad studies.

So theoretically you can scare my mum with your views but I can't scare your mum with mine?

Views are irrelevant, cold hard data that says one thing is correct and another is just a mistaken opinion is the one that determine if you have the right to repeat what you think in a private forum.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

@viking68

@jsapc

I think we'll have to just agree to disagree on this one.

It's been fun to respectfully debate with you. All the best to both of you.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Good! Conspiracy nonsense is already costing countless lives. For once Facebook does the right thing.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Full disclosure, I have never been on Facebook. I don't have a comparable with Covid here but as a thought experiment with another medical historical fact; what if someone were to post that the US government is not treating syphilis patients with actual medicine as they were told and just a placebo so they can study the effects in the Black community? This actually happened in Alabama by the Federal government for 2 dacades.

Would a contemporary whistle blower raising that alarm on Facebook be censored? My guess is they would.

The point is somethings that sound crazy, NSA monitoring US phone data, Tuskegee experiment, etc., turn out to be factual. 1 in a million maybe, but there are historical precedents.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

My guess is they would.

Edward Snowden (among others) proves that your guess is wrong. In this day and age, whistleblowers are taken way more seriously than they have been in any age before.

Furthermore, you seem to imply that if the US governement could start something as horrendous as the Tuskegee experiment 90 years ago, it could very well do it something of that nature today. Except it doesn't really work, since that was... Well, 90 years ago, and also, if we're talking about Covid, it wouldn't an american-centric conspiracy, but a worldwide conspiracy. Meaning, Merkel and Bolsanaro and Macron and Trump and everyone else, working hand in hand. Which is just... Well... I'll let you pick any negative epithet you want.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

to lose millions of customers who are getting sick of them.

If people are sick of a private company, they can already not use their services. Section 230 has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Fair, don't you think,

It all depends on what we're talking about. If we're talking about people claiming the earth is flat, no problem, that doesn't hurt anyone except their own credibility.

But when if we're talking about, for example, public health issues, it stops being a matter of "opinion" and "deciding what's true or not" and becomes a matter of "facts" vs "garbage". Measles were practically eradicated from the US until some people starting "deciding what's true or not" for themselves and stopped vaccinating their kids. And then measles came back. Some people "decided for themselves what was true or not", and then kids got encephalitis.

That is not liberty or democracy, it's simple idiocy.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Snowden was was 7 years ago, a light year away from where we are today with tech companies pre-approving information on their platforms. Additionally, the Tuskegee experiments ended in the early 70's so I don't feel a warm and fuzzy that we have swept our government clean of doing less than ethical things. Particularly when we see so many late 70's aged lifetime government leaders still holding offices.

I say all of that to just put into a discussion that there are demonstrable occurrences where "crazy" sounding theories have been proved right. Does it mean that every wild-ass theory should be published as a fact, absolutely not but frankly I struggle with the thought that anyone reads one source (of which I don't think Facebook is a "source" just a coffee clutch of jabber) and chisels that in stone.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

So who decides? You? Of course not. That's up to the individual. That's a human right.

There have always been limits on free speech, and that doesn't make it undemocratic.

Yelling "fire" in a theater was always the example of restricted "free speech" before the internet age.

Now we have Qanon and Trump pushing baseless lies as propaganda. They don't believe the lies, but they want to abnormally shape opinion.

It seems that conservatives have taken issue with the inability to freely disseminate falsehoods or people publishing facts that somehow contract their world view via social media run by publicly owned companies that must be socially responsible or risk losing shareholder value.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Why not just add "this is an opinion" and allow people to express various opinions.

Why ban all dissenting views and force-feed the public with only 1 "official" viewpoint.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Too many people believe the fake claims.

In our location we had zero cases until last month when we had 100 cases for the month but local gossip rumors were we had 100 cases a day.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Too many people believe the fake claims.

In our location we had zero cases until last month when we had 100 cases for the month but local gossip rumors were we had 100 cases a day.

A belief is not a crime.

How are we different from North Korea if there's only permitted to be 1 official viewpoint and no contrary opinions?

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Why not just add "this is an opinion" and allow people to express various opinions.

Because that is not what the ban is targeting, people are not trying to express their mistaken opinions, they are trying to disguise them as facts in order to convince other people. If they were honest enough to recognize they have unfounded, irrational or easy to falsify beliefs people would not listen to them.

One person saying "yeah vaccines have demonstrated to be safer than the infection, but I don't want to recognize it and I don't want people to vaccinate" would be true, but also terribly weak; that is why instead people say "all doctors and scientists in the world are trying to kill you with vaccines, that is why they fake studies and hide millions of people killed by them" which is what gets banned.

A company has every right to delete lies, specially if they endanger the life and health of others, without infringing on free speech, people just want to lie there precisely because it makes their claims seem more truthful (why else would they be allowed in a place that bans lies?). Anybody can just go and lie to their heart's content in the places where lies are not against the rules.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Why ban all dissenting views and force-feed the public with only 1 "official" viewpoint.

Your dichotomy is inherently flawed because facts aren't a "viewpoint". The truth isn't a "viewpoint".

The earth is round isn't a viewpoint. Climate change is real isn't a viewpoint. Vaccines save lives (and have never caused autism) isn't a viewpoint. It's all provable facts.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Imagine if regarding diet only information that promoted the food pyramid was allowed, and that any mention of the ketogenic, vegan, carnivore ... diets were banned because the promoted "false claims" that have been "debunked" by "health experts".

Anyway, here's an interesting take on the possible reasons for the Big Tech censorship:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTk2Ng3PjZY

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Imagine if regarding diet only information that promoted the food pyramid was allowed, and that any mention of the ketogenic, vegan, carnivore ... diets were banned because the promoted "false claims" that have been "debunked" by "health experts".

It would be a completely different situation, because your example is not true, this is called using a strawman, a false argument based on something false because you have no way to counter the real one.

Saying that veganism can be a healthy option is perfectly fine, there is no science that proves this statement is false, saying that masks makes COVID-19 infection worse can be discarded, because science has proved it is simply a lie.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

You are totally free to share your thoughts by then but people are still completely free to warn you that they are goofy at best and criminally dangerous at worst. And if they are criminally dangerous, private corporations (that's the foundation of capitalism) are absolutely free to suppress them as well. And well, why should you decide what users on their own website can and can't let Facebook read? It's a private corporation and it owes you none at all.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Faecesbook is an electronic chamber pot.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Facebook needs to stop editing, after all they are claiming they are not a publisher.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

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