Warning: I felt nauseous and cried putting together some of this material.
First, let’s review Facebook’s definitions of violence and hate speech:
I’d like to know how the below comment, on Meryl’s links to Big Oil and Big Pharma (she sells tupperware and cosmetics, the former made from oil, and L’Oréal owns (owned?) a “big pharma” company, Sanofi-Aventis), can be considered hate speech or a threat.
Of course, that’s not the first time that Meryl’s made frivolous complaints to get material removed. But, moving on to more serious matters, I recently became aware of one member of the anti vaccination (antivax)/antifluoride/other conspiracy theory community making threats by private message:
When the person the message was sent to had done little more than post polite responses to antivax people on public Facebook pages. Yet, after Facebook reviewed a complaint about that message, they found it didn’t breach their “community standards”. Some community if that’s acceptable.
Even more worrying, is that Facebook allows a group for the promotion and discussion of child abuse to stand. First, let me make a few things clear:
I do not consider antivax people in general to be child abusers. Misguided, certainly, but there is usually no intent to cause harm to a child—they simply believe that vaccines are ineffective and dangerous, which is not true, but still, that’s what these people believe. And most are otherwise taking on board other measures, often useful. Example:
What I do consider child abuse is when parents, some of whom are happy to be vaccinated themselves, want to deliberately infect their children with diseases that they know full well are at best very unpleasant, and worse carries the risk of serious complications, including death. These parents have intent to harm their children, no matter how much they want to brush aside the risks of complications.
Before we jump in to look at this child abuse group that Facebook considers to meet “community standards”, let’s review a few extra facts on a couple of diseases and the vaccinations for them.
Here’s a primer on Chicken Pox (Varicella), and, particularly in high risk groups (which includes infants), it carries risk of complications. Measles is also nasty, and even in otherwise health people carries the following complications:
About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. About one out of 1,000 gets encephalitis, and one or two out of 1,000 die. Other rash-causing diseases often confused with measles include roseola (roseola infantum) and rubella (German measles).
No, Vitamin C (or E) won’t help you, and vitamin supplements have a long history of health myths. Nor are better nutrition and hygiene alone responsible for the reduction in disease. Compared with the risks of the MMRV vaccine that prevents both measles and varicella (chicken pox) along with mumps and rubella (German measles), the benefits (outlined in articles above) are huge. Vaccines aren’t linked to an increase in allergies, or cœliac disease or in autism.
Stats and science are important, but somewhat pale in comparison with these descriptions of cases in ICU from an Intensive Care Specialist:
I am an Intensive Care Specialist. Although it was a while ago now, I do remember my first job in Intensive Care (ICU). During my first week I admitted a young man onto ICU with chicken pox. He was 18-19, a young, fit, healthy, tradie. He liked football (soccer – it was England), and had never had any major illnesses before. He was fully vaccinated according to the schedule of the day (this was in the late 1990′s). This was in the days before there was a vaccine for chicken pox. He had chicken pox pneumonia, and was in respiratory failure as a result of this. He was struggling to breathe, and working really hard just to get the air in and out of his lungs. We had to give him an anaesthetic, and put him on a ventilator to try and keep him alive. At that time I had no idea that chicken pox could be so dangerous. I knew it was contagious, I mean, although I had escaped with mild disease when I was a kid, I remember that 26 of my class of 28 kids were off school at the same time with it. I hadn’t remembered learning specifically about it at med school, but I certainly did some reading during that first week on ICU.
It is not unusual, or rare, for it to cause pneumonia of such a severity that it requires hospital care. Not all that get it survive. He was ventilated for a couple of weeks. He, and his family, suffered terribly during that time. He was lucky though. He did survive. His lungs will be permanently scarred though, and I’m not sure he’ll ever play football again. He was the first patient I looked after in ICU with a vaccine preventable disease. The first of so many. The last was only this week, when I tried to help a gentleman with shingles. Shingles is excruciatingly painful, and also caused by the varicella virus. Thankfully, both these diseases are now preventable by vaccination.
So, without further ado, here’s the group for people (currently 482 members) who want to deliberately infect their kids with chicken pox (and in some cases as you’ll see, measles):
Here’s a selection of the discussion I recently obtained from this closed group:
This next one is hugely worrying. Not only are they planning on trying to get a 5 month old infant infected with chicken pox (recall: one of the high risk categories for complications), they are also planning on giving said 5 month old chiropractic treatment to help manage the disease. Not only do they quote the disproven (and nonsensical) vitalistic theory behind false chiropractic claims; there is no evidence that any chiropractic treatment is of value in children and carries with it the risk of spinal injuries (which can lead to death).
Dr Pappas said he was concerned the decision was an endorsement of chiropractic treatment for infants when there was no scientific evidence to support it.
”I think they have put the chiropractor’s interests before the interests of the public,” Dr Pappas said. ”[Treating infants] is inappropriate and it carries a very small but real risk of causing damage, and in some cases, devastating damage.”
A review published in the Pediatrics journal in 2007 also found serious adverse events relating to spinal manipulations in children, including a brain haemorrhage and paraplegia.
and, despite warnings in the group description and from members (who seem more concerned by the illegality than the public health hazards), those who still seem keen on sending chicken pox via the frigging postal system and provide strategies on minimising detection (presumably the US post are on the lookout for licked lollipops alone):
Also noteworthy is this discussion, bearing in mind the extra risks to pregnant mothers and unborn children from chicken pox. At least the mothers have naturally acquired immunity (unless for some reason they didn’t—these cases do occur).
Even if you disagree with me that the above is child abuse, there is still no clear category to report child abuse discussion on Facebook:
and Facebook thus decide that the Chicken Pox Party group meets their “community standards”:
Come on Facebook, lift your game.