Over on the Book of Faces, a friend shared a link about FaceBook removing “anti-vax” content.
As I’ve said before, my stance is fairly straightforward in several ways, but there’s two things going on here. First: vaccinate your kids people. The “scare stories” are just that, stories. The “awareness” they’re talking about is empty headed foolishness by people so deep into Dunning Kreuger to make it negative knowledge–more misinformation than information. The whole “anti-vax” (or as they’re trying to rebrand now “vaccine awareness”) started because a fraud, the never to be sufficiently despised Wakefield, lied about it in an attempt to sell his new vaccine formulation.
The “injuries” caused by vaccines–which don’t even have to be proven to any scientific standard but just have to be enough of a “just-so” story to sound plausible to someone not knowledgeable in the field, are fewer in an average year, than the deaths from a single “harmless childhood disease. The benefits vastly overwhelm any possible risks. Yes, there are certain individuals whose personal or family history might indicate that certain specific vaccines might be better off delayed or even skipped entirely (thinking of a particular friend and her daughter, mother had an allergic reaction to a particular vaccine and so wanted to separate that vaccine out from others to give her daughter separately to be ready to handle a possible reaction) but that’s a reason why everyone else should be vaccinated so they don’t get exposed to the disease in the first place.
That said, as folk who read this blog should know, I am close to a free speech absolutist When a forum like Facebook, with an overwhelming share of the market, starts censoring based on content, that’s concerning to me. It’s concerning when they censor people, groups, and topics with which I agree. It’s concerning when they censor people, groups, and subjects with which I disagree.
My position on speech with which I disagree is more speech expressing that disagreement and arguing why the disagreement is there. I can unbend a little on the absolutism when you get to the point of deliberate slander and libel (defamatory, untrue, and known to the person or persons spreading it that it’s untrue or spread with a reckless disregard for the truth), and direct incitement to violence. But not beyond that.
There’s actually a straightforward “fix” that uses existing law–the difference between a public carrier and a publisher. The one does not control content and the other that does. If FaceBook wants to be a publisher, picking and choosing the content that is allowed, as opposed to a communications medium where they don’t control content, then they should be held accountable as a publisher for that content. Which means FaceBook should be sueable for for any actionable content that they allow–after all, if they’re censoring content then that content is there because they want it there.
In any case, vaccinate your kids.