Social media: A Source of Information, Support and a Trap

We are all tough guysI have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Flickr. They take a bit of time, but I’ve felt that the investment was worth it for the gain received.

News tends to come out very quickly on these venues, so I have stayed on the very cutting edge of updates about vaccination, health and politics. I’ve also liaised with activists around the world in ways that just don’t seem to happen in other venues. We’ve strategised, supported each other and instantly shared information, local events and vaccination and other personal data.

It’s been marvellous!

But it’s also lulled me into a false sense of action.

Armchair warrior

From the comfort of my own chair, I’ve gotten to the end of the day feeling like I’ve accomplished so much when in fact, all I’ve done is talk (and virtual talk at that!)

You see, getting onto social media and saying rah, rah, rah! You’re right and what the government is doing is wrong, makes me feel better; makes me feel like I’m part of the solution; but if that’s all I do, it accomplishes nothing.

Social media has so many benefits, but one of its downsides – and perhaps one of the many reasons why participation in these outlets is openly encouraged by so many businesses and governments (aside from the purposes of data mining and financial gain) is that it keeps ‘the masses’ complacent. It makes us feel like we are participating in the issues we feel passionate about when really, all we’re doing is sending out a bunch of ‘me too’ posts that might make us and the post-recipients feel good, but do nothing to remedy any problems or right any wrongs.

These outlets are a tyrannical government’s dream! Yes, on the one hand, they do allow us to share information quickly, efficiently and with little government interference (Twitter and Facebook being the notable exceptions with censorship and algorithm fiddling constantly suppressing anti-government and anti-corporate interest posts), but on the other hand, they keep us in front of our computers and off the street.

Civil disobedience and protests before social media

An artist's depiction of the Leicester anti-compulsory vaccination protest of 1885 which saw up to 100,000 people marching against compulsory shots.
An artist’s depiction of the Leicester anti-compulsory vaccination protest of 1885 which saw up to 100,000 people marching against compulsory shots.

In the mid-1800s when the UK Parliament first passed compulsory vaccination legislation, without any media or social media, England organised massive protests which were eventually successful at overturning that draconian legislation which, like today’s No Jab, No Pay laws, unfairly targeted those on lower incomes whilst not touching the wealthy.

In the Leicester rally of 1885, as many as 100,000 people marched in protest to these laws – 100,000 people who found out about the protest and got off their arses to publicly protest against government overreach!

Rallies in Sydney, Brisbane and other capital cities last year – with all the benefits of media and social media – only attracted a maximum of 1,000 individuals in each location – far less the second time around.

Why is this? Why is it so difficult today to get people out of their houses to physically attend protests against injustices which, if allowed to continue, may harm or even kill us? Why are we so unwilling to show up, even when we know that NOT showing up will appear to uninformed outsiders to indicate tacit approval or even support of these laws?

I believe that social media is one of the reasons.

Say it to my face

After speaking with many people who fully intended to come to these anti-No Jab, No Pay rallies last year, but who never actually got there, a single theme appeared. I have paraphrased some of the reasons below:

1- I was busy, but I did share it with my friends on Facebook.

2- I was afraid to come, but I emailed a couple of people. Did they turn up?

3- I am SO behind this event, but I just couldn’t make it. I put it out on Twitter and I’m sure lots of my friends would have been there.

4- Great event! Would have loved to have come. I support it 100%. Saw it on Pinterest and did share it with a few friends who I know are on side. Didn’t want to have any blowback from my other friends though.

All of these people believed they were supporting the events and the cause. In their heart, they were actively involved in advancing informed choice because they shared information on social media. Don’t get me wrong – sharing is VERY important, but it will take so much more than that to overturn discriminatory legislation; to change the minds of an uninformed public, to make Australians understand how wrong it is to coerce parents into doing something to their child that is not (according to the parents) in their best interests.

It takes action – physical action.

It takes letter writing – not just emailing.

It takes protests where tens of thousands turn up.

It takes people getting outside of their comfort zones to speak with friends, family and associates and explain why they support free and informed health choice.

If, like me, you have been a keyboard warrior who hasn’t gotten out much of late, don’t despair! That false sense of action hasn’t been a complete loss. Sharing information and support is one plank in a vital effort to raise the consciousness of Australians everywhere about the dangers facing them, their families and their basic, inalienable human rights.

But it is just ONE plank. There is so much more that needs to be done.

Protest-1900_518x230

Social media can be instrumental in advancing causes and achieving goals. It has brought down governments and informed the world. Without social media, the Arab Spring never would have happened. While it may have started on Twitter, it was only successful because people got out and marched and protested in their hundreds of thousands. We are missing that important final step.

I am going overseas for a few months shortly and won’t be back until early 2017 (2017? How did that happen?????) When I do, I pledge to be more present, more active and more vocal about these issues.

I pledge to do more seminars, provide more information both on and offline and write more letters to politicians and to the editors. I pledge to call more talkback radio stations and speak to more people – both friends and strangers – about why I believe in health freedom (in appropriate circumstances of course – I’m not just going to walk up to complete strangers and say, Hey, do you vaccinate?)

Will you join me? 

Please don’t stop your social media chatter – it’s important. But don’t feel that it’s the be-all and end-all. When the call comes to go to a seminar or a protest march or to visit your members of Parliament, please do it! Be there in the flesh – and make your voices heard.

I would love to hear what you think about this. Please make comments on this blog post.

by Meryl Dorey

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the nocompulsoryvaccination blog. This blog is a forum, support and information site and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.

 

Hypocrisy – thy name is ‘SAVN’

It’s been a busy time here at the AVN so I haven’t been able to keep this blog as up-to-date as I would like, but the events of the last few days have been so ‘interesting’, I felt it would be a good time to share with you what has been going on.

As most of you would know, the organisation, Stop the AVN (SAVN) was set up specifically to force our group, which has been established since 1997, to close. Their tactics have included spurious complaints to government bodies and the media; the establishment of websites whose specific goal is to harass and denigrate anyone who believes that vaccination should be a matter of free and informed choice; death threats by phone, email and via Facebook; the sending of such vile pornography, it cannot be shared without blacking out most of the image (such as the letter below which was sent to my home address 3 times; trust me – you do NOT want to see the image that I’ve blacked out!); making threatening and abusive calls and sending abusive emails to our advertisers and professional members, trying to force them to withdraw their support of the AVN. There is more, but this is a good start in describing how these people operate and why, what they are doing now, is the height of hypocrisy!

One of the first things that SAVN did in their attempt to shut our organisation down was to establish several Facebook pages. They used our logo (and even called one of their pages Australian Vaccination Network which caused no end of confusion). Facebook made them remove our logo when I complained to them about this unauthorised use of our trademarked image, but they then took a ‘piece’ of our logo and used that until one of their own members who obviously has some experience with graphic design, made them a logo of their own based on the symbol in the movie, Ghostbusters.

From the beginning, SAVN made use of screen shots from our AVN Facebook page to attack not just myself, but others who posted there. It has become so scary for some of our members to share their knowledge and support on our Facebook page that they have either stopped posting altogether or signed up under assumed names so they will not be victimised in this way. Many people use their children’s photos as their Facebook profile picture and they started to be afraid that their children would be victimised as a result so they removed the images and put something more generic up as their profile picture. Others increased the security of their Facebook page, blocking access to anyone who was not already their friend on Facebook. All in all, it had reached a point where what we had established as a safe place to discuss research, experiences and news about vaccinations had become anything but.

AVN members began to complain to Facebook about these attacks and to ask that Facebook uphold their terms of service in regards to SAVN. Facebook says that:

Note: groups that attack a specific person or group of people (e.g. racist, sexist, or other hate groups) will not be tolerated. Creating such a group will result in the immediate termination of your Facebook account.

Despite these appeals to Facebook to stand by their own terms, nothing was done about the SAVN pages and their vile, abusive and harassing posts about the AVN, myself and our members.

Facebook also claims the following:

3- Safety

We do our best to keep Facebook safe, but we cannot guarantee it. We need your help to do that, which includes the following commitments:

  1. You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user.
  2. You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.

Well, people from the SAVN page have done all of these things – many times – and in many places. For instance, several of our members were sent incredibly violent pornographic images directly via Facebook. One of the images was forwarded to me and it was a shocker! It depicted a sexual act with a corpse. It was too horrendous to even begin to describe.

We showed this image to a university professor who is familiar with this area and he said that just showing that image was an offence – let alone sending it to someone else.

Facebook was informed of this by the recipients and they did absolutely nothing. So much for their claims to want to “keep Facebook safe”! Oh, and by the way, apart from being a member of the SAVN page (to be fair, SAVN did kick this person off after they were alerted to his abusive messages), this person works for a vaccine manufacturer. The company was also informed about his violent pornographic posts and to the best of our knowledge, nothing was done.

It had reached a point where you could set a stop watch between the time when someone posted something on the AVN’s Facebook page and the time when SAVN would screenshot it and put it on their page to tear down the person who wrote it – generally 5 minutes was all it took. It became obvious that these people had no real argument to fall back on. Indeed, abuse and harassment is their stock in trade.

Look at this example of a screenshot of one of my posts to the AVN page. This post was discussing an article from another website showing that experts who had testified that parents had killed their babies were now being discredited and it appeared that something other than child abuse – in fact, vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs – may have been the real reason for these children’s deaths. SAVN took this screen shot and below is what they made of it:

Is this the way to carry on a debate about vaccination? And whilst some of our opponents act independently of SAVN and without their knowledge or endorsement, SAVN is the most visible and active group opposing freedom of vaccination choice and part of a wider campaign that has been trying for some time to shut up any debate on this issue.

Several days ago, after hearing from yet more of our members about how they were not comfortable posting on our page because they did not want to leave themselves open to abuse, I decided to go through the SAVN page and find out what they were up to. What I found appalled me! Let’s just say that anything and everything that was on the AVN page was considered fair game for their abusive handling and I know that my words, my images and my posts are my own and they have no right to use them for any purpose without my express permission.

In two hours, I filed approximately 50 copyright claims against various Facebook members for using screenshots of my posts without my permission. I also filed reports against people who had used vile language to attack me – there were many attacks against others, but it was not up to me to report those – I only stuck to the ones that attacked me personally.

The upshot was that Facebook took down all of the posts and from what I understand, suspended a couple of the accounts for being repeat offenders. Don’t worry though, those people just set up new accounts and came back on and the SAVN page is still live.

The funny part is, that SAVN is trying to say that what I did was wrong and amounts to censorship. They say that I am denying their freedom of speech and until they can work out how to get around these regulations, they have made their page private so that no nasty pro-health choice people can read what they are writing and nobody can join unless and until they find the secret handshake required to prove you are a true believer in ‘science’.

I’ll tell you why this is so funny – I think you will agree with me that the irony and the hypocrisy in this situation is painfully obvious!

First, in regards to the freedom of speech and censorship issues, Ken McLeod, one of the founding and most active members of SAVN and the original complainant to the HCCC 2 years ago, stated in his complaint (which you can read in full by clicking here) that:

E- The AVN is not protected by any right of free speech.

Well, if the AVN and its membership are not protected by that right, why should SAVN be? Of course, this is a spurious argument because everyone in Australia is entitled to the free and open expression of ideas and debate – they are simply not entitled to harass, threaten, use pornography and foul language or any of the other things that SAVN does on a regular basis. They are not entitled to slander and defame either.

The membership of SAVN seem to feel that freedom of speech is only available to those who agree with them, however. To illustrate this fact, just prior to making their page private, some members of SAVN had been gloating that their tactic of calling into question not only my own ability to comment on this issue, but the ability, intelligence and truthfulness of all members of the AVN was working. They felt that due to their efforts to call us into question, nobody in the media would be contacting the AVN for comments on this issue any longer and therefore, they would no longer have to worry about the ‘false balance’ of journalists who wanted to discuss both sides of the vaccination debate. So much for freedom of speech and open access to information!

Second, they claimed that the complaints to Facebook were illegal and an abuse of policy.

Hmmmm, I find that to be interesting.

About a year or so ago, several members of our Facebook page started their own site called, Stop the AVN Exposed. They did this without my knowledge or involvement though they did invite me to view the pages and I did join for that purpose.

On this site, they took screenshots of some of the SAVN members’ posts and criticised them in much the same way that SAVN was criticising the posts of the AVN. It didn’t take more than a week or two but Facebook actually took the Stop the AVN Exposed site down due to complaints from SAVN members that the site had only been set up to attack them. Incredible double-standard on both the part of Facebook and SAVN.

So now, when the shoe is on the other foot, SAVN is crying to mama that it isn’t fair!  The AVN has gone and spoiled all of their fun and they are not going to come out and play any more until Facebook says they are sorry and returns all of their vile posts to where they were previously.

Well, I applaud Facebook for finally, after so many months of inaction, doing something to protect the innocent parents who frequent the AVN Facebook page and who only want a safe place where they can discuss an issue that is vital to the health of their families. My biggest complaint is that they took so long to do it and that they still have not made SAVN abide by Facebook’s terms and conditions when it comes to their bullying, intimidation and harassment of another organisation via their page – all of which is in direct contravention to Facebook’s own rules.

Stop the AVN has used every dispicable means possible to silence and villify the AVN. For them to call foul now is the height of hypocrisy.