Anti-vaccine groups changing into ‘dance parties’ on Facebook to avoid detection

Ban-evasion efforts on Facebook and Instagram are accelerating as the White House mounts pressure on social media platforms to do more to curb vaccine misinformation.

Some anti-vaccination groups on Facebook are changing their names to euphemisms like “dance party” or “dinner party” and using code words to fit those themes in order to be banned from Facebook, because the company is using misinformation. But tries to crack it down. Kovid 19 Vaccines.

The groups, which are largely private and not searchable, but according to screenshots provided to Granthshala News by several Facebook members, have maintained a large user base that Facebook has acquired during the years of allowing anti-vaccination content, adding new topics. The language has also been swapped to fit and provide code legends. group.

A major “dance party” group has more than 40,000 followers and has stopped allowing new users amid public scrutiny. The backup group for “Dance Party”, known as “Dinner Party” and created by the same moderator, has over 20,000 followers.

Other anti-vaccine influencers on Instagram use similar language exchanges, such as referring to vaccinated people as “swimmers” and the act of vaccinating joining a “swimming club.”

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment, but pointed to Granthshala News’ efforts to attract users to the company. Official source on COVID-19 vaccines.

Ban-theft maneuvers by anti-vaccination groups on Facebook and Instagram are intensifying as the White House mounts pressure on social media platforms to do more to curb vaccine misinformation and disinformation.

“They’re killing people,” President Joe Biden said on Facebook on Friday about vaccine misinformation, later softening his language, saying he expected the platform to be more about “outrageous misinformation.” Will do

Facebook spokesman Kevin McAllister responded on Saturday: “The facts show that Facebook is helping to save lives. Period.”

Back-and-forth did not harm people in anti-vaccine groups. In a post with over 4,000 responses and 1,000 comments, an administrator for “Dance Party” noted that “WH Press held a press briefing and mentioned some notable groups that were shut down and Something that is defeating the bot system.”

Beating Facebook’s moderation system “feels like a badge of honour,” the administrator wrote, followed by a crying emoji. At the end of the post, the admin reminded users to stay away from “disapproved words” and pointed them to a code legend on the side of the page.

Using code words to evade sanctions is nothing new among the anti-vaccine community, and it borrows from a playbook used by extremists on Facebook and elsewhere for years. The practice relies heavily on “leatspeak,” or modified language used by coders and gamers, often substituting letters for numbers or symbols during online discussions.

“As long as the Internet has existed, vaccine activists have been participating in leatspeak,” said Joan Donovan, research director at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. “It’s part of the culture of anti-vaccination activists.”

Members of the group have incorporated a lot of coded language to hide their discussions, many of which defy theories about vaccines. “Dance” or “drank beer” means “get vaccinated.” The term “Pizza” or “Pizza King” is usually used to refer to “Pfizer” and Moderna is referred to as “Moana”. Users usually play with informal language about the dance to create a more coded language.

For example, a member of the group said that her husband “became sick after going on a cross country trip where we spent 2 nights with the dancers,” referring to two people who had just been vaccinated. was.

“They believe that being around shiny dancers causes shingles reactivation,” the group member wrote. The glitter, in this case, refers to “vaccine shedding”, a false theory among anti-vaccination activists who claim that people who have been vaccinated somehow “shed” their vaccine. are doing, and causing them to get sick with a litany. diseases.

The use of coded language underscores the challenge Facebook has in containing the anti-vaccine sentiment that has persisted over the years on the social network and other digital platforms. Facebook began cracking down on vaccine misinformation in 2019 and pledged to act swiftly against COVID misinformation in 2020

Other extremist groups have been found using coded language in an attempt to evade detection. The anti-government Boogaloo movement derives most of its stats from the alternative names Facebook used to avoid being banned. Group members wear Hawaiian shirts and patches depicting igloos as some of the largest Boogaloo Facebook groups changed their names to “Big Luo” and “Big Igloo” prior to the group’s expulsion from Facebook.

Donovan said that extremist groups change their names to generic or non-offensive-sounding names during public scrutiny in an effort to retain the audience they created.

“After Charlottesville, white supremacists were scrambling to change the names of their groups to things like Muslims for Peace. In doing so, they are clearly participating in sanctions-theft, but they are better off together. learning to work,” she said, referring to the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Virginia. “There is a network effect where people are imagining themselves as persecuted and having access to some secret knowledge.”

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