by Gavin Haynes
Thursday, 17
December 2020
Spotted
17:20

Beware the Robespierres of Twitter

In censoring anti-vax content, the tech giant is empowering online busybodies
by Gavin Haynes
Making false claims about the adverse effect of vaccines is now banned on Twitter. Credit: Getty

The news that Twitter is to ban anti-vaxxer content has come like a thunderbolt of the entirely predictable today.

From now on, it will no longer be possible to post content that makes:

“False claims that suggest immunisations and vaccines are used to intentionally cause harm to or control populations, including statements about vaccines that invoke a deliberate conspiracy.”

“False claims that Covid is not real or not serious, and therefore that vaccinations are unnecessary.”

“False claims which have been widely debunked about the adverse impacts or effects of receiving vaccinations.” 

- Twitter

On an aesthetic level as much as any, few things are more hideous than an old school anti-vaxxer. The early-2000s, post-Andrew Wakefield wave were perhaps the first moment that internet crank culture touched what an earlier generation called Soccer Moms. A certain kind of benign health-conscious suburban fad culture met a single scientist with a dodgy dossier,  and the result was a cultural car-crash we’re still unpicking.

But Twitter’s latest ban is a wide dragnet that will be used to frame the argument only in the way that, say, a California tech company employee would see it.

Quietly, the sub-clause ‘or not serious’ is doing an almost infinite amount of work in the second of Twitter’s three rules.

What counts as serious? There are any number of people who don’t take Covid as seriously as a California tech company employee that go right up to Donald Trump.

In fact, insofar as there is debate over Covid at all, it is very seldom over its existence, and almost entirely over whether or not it is serious enough to warrant the measures imposed on us. Many of the above will make the reasonable claim that, as this disease has killed only a hundredth of those taken out by the Spanish Flu, it is demonstrably not the ‘one in a hundred year event’ that we were promised in March.

And then there are any number of objections to the way we are being presented with a take-it-or-leave it solution. Take, for instance, this sceptic:

There may be much more complexity to the “95% effective” announcement than meets the eye—or perhaps not. Only full transparency and rigorous scrutiny of the data will allow for informed decision making. The data must be made public. 
- Peter Doshi, BMJ

That’s the BMJ’s assistant editor, Peter Doshi, taken from a comment piece in the same journal, running his mouth about efficacy, on the perfectly reasonable grounds that we were not told even the basic methodology underlying a headline claim on Pfizer’s product.

Any attempt to step back from the idea that the vaccine is the total solution to all our problems now stands to be guillotined by those helpful Robespierres at Twitter.

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Remember, the drugs companies have legal indemnity with regard to any side effects arising from the various vaccines. I am far from being an anti-vaxxer. Indeed, I consider mass vaccination to be one of the very few things the state should be doing, and perhaps the only thing it does well.

However, I do not think that Covid represents any risk to me or any healthy person below the age of about 65. As such, I do not believe that the vaccination is necessary for the vast majority of people.

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Indeed. It is one of the many sick ironies that vaccination schemes for other diseases have been suspended in the name of controlling Sars-COV-2 until a vaccine comes along.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Fraser, you are of course entitled an opinion, as everybody else. That opinion is fine as long as it does not harm anyone else. It is NOT fine when it does – and by skipping the Covid vaccine you would be undisputably causing harm to 100% of the population around you. That is a scientific truth, which you are NOT entitled to challenge with your “opinion”. You haven’t informed yourself enough to dispute something established by people who did. Those are called scientists, and subverting such a basic logical arrangement of knowledge “credit” is more dangerous than you seem able to realise.

Greg Maland
Greg Maland
1 year ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

As if everything around this topic is already completely and indisputably resolved forever, and anyone not aligned with the narrative must be cancelled.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
1 year ago
Reply to  Greg Maland

Sorry, playing victim here won’t help you. And fostering discussion is never gonna be a justification for allowing ignorant political ideologs to argue the findings of scientists.
If anything needs (and deserves) to be cancelled, it is the glorification of ignorance.

vtaproot
vtaproot
1 year ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

How do those who are not vaccinated cause harm to those who get the vaccine?

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
1 year ago
Reply to  vtaproot

TaprootFarm, I won’t bother answering Adrian, but will answer you – consider the mutation prospects of the virus. If everyone (100% of the population) gets vaccinated quickly, there is the greatest likelihood of extinguishing the virus for good, as it can find no host where it can survive & mutate. In contrast, it only takes a few “smart cookies” like Adrian to provide the virus a host, and thus a chance to live on long enough to mutate. A mutated virus would stand a fair chance of overcoming the recently-acquired immunity of those who were wise enough to be vaccinated in the first place, thus perpetuating the viral cycle.

vtaproot
vtaproot
1 year ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

You didn’t answer my question. If you are vaccinated, those who choose not to receive the vaccine pose no threat to you.

As for mutations, that is the norm for viruses and doesn’t necessarily lead to a virus that is more dangerous. Often, the opposite is true.

In regards to this particular virus, it has a survival rate of 99.96% and is so mild that most people who become infected don’t even know they have it. This is not a plague. Most of the deaths (94% in the USA) attributed to this virus occurred in people who have two or more comorbidites (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, COPD, etc.), meaning we don’t know if the virus contributed to their deaths.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to vaccines, however I will not be a guinea pig for a brand new mRNA vaccine that was rushed into production because of fearmongering over a virus that is little more than a bad chest cold for a majority of the people who become infected and actually develop symptoms. If you want to be a guinea pig, well, that’s on you.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
1 year ago
Reply to  vtaproot

If you insist that such a deadly disease as Covid is “mostly mild” and refuse to believe the hard evidence of body count, I rest my case. No point debating with people who think it is OK to deny evidence.

vtaproot
vtaproot
1 year ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

The data that I cited in my previous comment comes from the CDC.

You are the one who is denying the evidence, perhaps because you are relying on politicians, bureaucrats and their allies in the media for your information. No thank you. I’ll stick with reading scientific papers and articles written by people such as John Ionnidis, Sunetra Gupta, Carl Heneghen, Michael Leavitt, Michael Yeadon, and other experts in epidemiology, virology, immunology and related fields who have been critical of the fearmongering from the beginning, and who have been proven correct more often than not.

As for this Covid mutation, scientists such as Carl Heneghen and David Livermore have said there is no evidence that this new strain is more infectious or more deadly. Even the WHO’s Mike Ryan has agreed with that assessment. Indeed, it is the norm for such respiratory viruses to mutate into less virulent forms.

Adrian
Adrian
1 year ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

“and by skipping the Covid vaccine you would be undisputably causing harm to 100% of the population around you”

You clearly know nothing about science or epidemiology if you think that what you said there was accurate or not simple moralising.

Study some science, stop listen to journalists or professors with 2:2s in biology, or public health experts who present graphs with bad figures in them.

Then you might understand how refusing a vaccination when the minimum figure for those around him already having had the virus being around 11%, and those already vaccinated easily topping 20% before he’s eligible, cannot possibly add up to 100%.

Given their vulnerabiltiy or lack of it, he could be risking anywhere from 70% to 0% of the people around him at that stage. Everyone at risk at that point will have voluntarily decided not to have the vaccine, and will be putting him at equal risk.

So, get off your high horse, and learn some maths.

Then, trust that the undecideds will join the queue when the time comes, because they are rational people who will have much more evidence by next Summer, unless the moral minority decide it is their duty to suppress real statistics in favour of 100% certain Truth.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

Would it not be easier and more socially useful to simply ban Twitter and Facebook. in fact isn’t this option more a social imperative

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

I am worried personally that there has not been given enough time to ascertain any side effects of the vaccination. Normally this takes years but because of the panic for solutions not to mention the trillions to be made, the time given for testing is nowhere near the normal time needed for a vaccine. That the vaccine has been indemnified by the government in case of side effects helps the drug companies but not the public. The least they can do is to make it voluntary so that those unsure remain responsible for themselves.

Greg Maland
Greg Maland
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Sad that a completely reasonable take on the situation seems like a dangerous provocation. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I imagine bots going around gathering names.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

The Ministry of Truth has its technology arm.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
1 year ago

I haven’t read the article yet: I just wondered if anyone else had noticed the irony of left-wingers cheering on some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet for deciding what is acceptable speech and what isn’t?

Now I’ll read the article.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
1 year ago

the reasonable claim that, as this disease has killed only a hundredth of those taken out by the Spanish Flu,

Not correct as far as the UK is concerned. Spanish Flu killed about 220,000 people in the UK out of 44million, about 5 in a thousand. So far, Covid has killed about 60,000 people in the UK out of 66million, about 1 in a thousand. So a factor of around 4 or 5, not 100.

As far as the world as a whole is concerned, Spanish Flu killed about 50 million out of 1billion, about 50 in a thousand; Covid so far 1.6million out of 7billion, about 0.2 in a thousand. So numerically, a ratio of about 30; proportionately, about 250.

Adrian
Adrian
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Nice stats.

stephensjpriest
stephensjpriest
1 year ago

CANDACE OWENS : USE YOUR BRAINS PEOPLE !!
You tube /watch?v=7mF2EFGfB2U
Candace Owens gives her two cents on current affairs with you know what… vaccine

Yes … a previous vaccine made her ill

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

Can’t understand her accent but think I got the gist.

Henry Longstop
Henry Longstop
1 year ago

No point getting hot and bothered about it. Twitter is simply succumbing to pressure and following the other social media platforms in helping regulate dissent. Realistically, one would expect no less.
Unfortunately on-the-ground decisions as to what will be censored as ‘counter-narrative’ will likely be at the marginal discretion of individual human beings with their own prejudices, agendas, ignorances, and foibles. So expect it to be patchy and inconsistent until AI takes over.
It’s just sad the very wings of freedom so quickly became the chains of oppression.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago

And censoring the anti-vaxxers will only confirm their idea of a conspiracy.

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

Number one, if the fringe nutters are banned, then great – they just take up time and space with their “natural” nonsense and go on and on and on. Free speech is fine but a commercially owned platform should be free to tailor its offering to its majority audience.

Number two, serious discussion should be encouraged as it it is beneficial to help people understand both the individual risk-benefit trade-off and the societal one (it really is a virtual no-brainer – even for youngsters: by the time most people are called for a jab, there will already be millions of recipients*).

Number three, there are quite a few people, not anti-vaxxers, often libertarians, who don’t appear to know much about this area yet pontificate at length – as they do about most things. It would be nice if they’d shut up too, but Twitter is never going to make them.

*rare events with vaccines almost always come early on; the chances of adverse effects at a later stage are so small that even for a child, the virus is many times a far worse prospect.

John Stone
John Stone
1 year ago

The language of this article is ignorant. Suddenly people are rightly scared about ill-tested vaccines and do not want to lose their fragile freedom either to talk about it or fend off the moment when our governments make them compulsory. But then what does the author know about the motivation of those vaccine critics of the past who were conveniently labelled “antivaxxers” by the same government industry machine which is now rampant? What happened in the past if your child was injured by a vaccine product (or if you were a doctor who was prepared to consider it)? It is quite simple, you became an enemy of the people.

What you think of as science is indistinguishable from state repression: it was never any been more respectable. As early as 2017, Seth Berkley, the CEO of the global vaccine alliance GAVI, was calling for “antivaxxers” to be banned from social media – in effect a call for a generic ban on all vaccine criticism. If we are in a desperate position now, it is not least because know-it-all, opinionated people refused to listen to those who tried to sound warnings.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
1 year ago

beware the microchips in the vaccine…5G will take control of your brain…burn down those cell towers before its too late.

sad…but it will be the only way to rid the planet of RWNJs and QAnon lunies…by all means don’t get the jab.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
1 year ago

“Many of the above will make the reasonable claim that, as this disease has killed only a hundredth of those taken out by the Spanish Flu, it is demonstrably not the ‘one in a hundred year event’ that we were promised in March.”

The alternative way of looking at this claim might be to assume that, had social distancing, masks and closures of non-essential businesses been used in 1919, the Spanish flu would have killed far fewer than the fifty million people it did kill. In other words, COVID could be the “one in a hundred year event”, albeit being moderately successfully controlled.