by Amy Jones
Friday, 12
November 2021

Instagram censorship will only help the conspiracies

The medical group Cochrane has been shadow-banned by Instagram
by Amy Jones
Cochrane has been shadow-banned by Instagram

The Cochrane Organisation is responsible for the publication of meta analyses and systematic reviews to help doctors and patients make informed choices about health. They are considered by many to be the gold standard in scientific and health evidence. On Wednesday they were unceremoniously shadow banned by Instagram. Anyone wishing to tag the organisation’s account in their posts was greeted with a warning message, declaring that they had “repeatedly posted content that goes against our community guidelines on false content about COVID-19 or vaccines”.

This is a surprising turn of events, given that, for years, the literature produced by the Cochrane Organisation has been considered an authority in medical evidence. Each systemic review considers the findings of many studies and trials, and a well done review is often considered “level 1” evidence — the best of the best. Such reviews feed into guidelines issued by national and international organisations such as NICE, and have significant impacts on NHS policies. What happened?

The Cochrane ban marks the latest in a long line of tech censorship, which has seen accounts suspended, shadow banned and removed. All in an attempt to fight disinformation relating to the Covid 19 pandemic.

It is important that false information cannot be spread with impunity. We live in an interconnected world, and false anti-vaxx propaganda can result in significant harm. But who decides what is disinformation and what isn’t? Shouldn’t we be concerned that Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have determined themselves to be the arbiters of scientific truth, simply because of the platforms they own? Tech companies have responded to the pandemic by taking the opportunity to implement a policy of enthusiastic and heavy handed censorship. Shadow banning the Cochrane Organisation is just another step in a strategy which has even seen cardiologists censored for discussing vaccine-related myocarditis.

Science is a process, and scientific discovery means that beliefs change. We have seen this many times throughout the pandemic. Most will remember the WHO’s statements in March 2020 — against wearing facemasks, unless sick or caring for someone sick. It is a statement that, if written now, would likely get them banned from social media.

Some argue that such censorship is a positive step, but those demanding more tech restriction and paternalism should realise it may be harming more than it helps. Not only does heavy handed censorship by social media companies contravene free speech, and cut down on legitimate discussion, it is also counterproductive.

Whilst it may be reasonable to limit patently untrue statements, cracking down on rapidly-changing positions, and denying ambiguity where it exists, only serves to drive people to more extreme beliefs. Conspiracy theories capitalise on uncertainty, and mistrust in authorities. What better way to sew seeds of mistrust than to refuse to permit any debate, and to fail to admit when evidence is sparse, or policies mutable? If the aim is to cut down on conspiracies and disinformation, far better to allow discussion and debate, and to be open and honest about the information we do have, including the shortcomings and the limitations.

Join the discussion

  • It is important that false information cannot be spread with impunity

    Probably not that important, no. Consider that the USA, the world’s major superpower and richest country, has free speech written into the Constitution. You can spread as much “misinformation” as you like in the USA and the government can’t touch you – hence why they’ve had to rope in their ideological allies in the private sector instead.
    Has this refusal to restrict “misinformation” hurt the USA? Clearly, it has not. Instead it’s handed the USA total dominance of social media. Consider that you could not headquarter a company like Facebook or Twitter in Europe or even the UK given local laws and propensity for governments to engage in casual censorship. Even US companies experience enormous pain trying to satisfy the whims of local governments, which are often contradictory.
    Having worked for the Valley, I am convinced the First Amendment is a critical part of the success of the US tech industry. The countries with the most aggressive actions against unapproved speech have either been steamrollered with the only exception (China) building up a local tech industry by simply outright banning the rest of the world’s services.

  • Indeed.
    I was making many of those points right at the start of this farce to anyone who would listen. Some did, most thought it was my usual nihilistic pessimism in action.
    The complexity of modern supply chains is so deeply woven into the necessities to support billions of people that to remove those supposed non-essential industries from the active economy will cause serious repurcussions. Actual serious food and energy shortages are now a serious possibility (now just add net-zero carbon policies for an extra laugh).
    To me, this seems blatantly obvious – how does reducing the supply of goods and services while increasing the money supply end well? How does scarcity of goods and services help the health services we’re supposedly protecting?
    And if all this was obvious to an idiot like me, why was it not to the people making the decisions, or the vast majority of the media who are supporting these decisions?

  • This is a very dark, Global Conspiracy. If you have not understood that yet you are not paying any attention. The world economy is about to crash – worse than the GFE, from the trillions of $ monetized and fiscally conjured out of air so people could stay home not producing stuff – wile being paid so they could consume at their normal rate. This is IMPOSSIBLE. If you increase money supply (M2) but reduce goods and services, you get Inflation, and the currency is debased, this is a disaster looming.

    The hairdressers, resturants, pubs, office cleaners, shops other than necesities – all laid off with pay – so instead of eating out, having haircuts…. they took their money and shopped Amazon, buying Chinese goods – notice the global ports are clogged? USA is importing 80$ Billion a Month more than it exports, on top USA is doing QE of 120$ Billion a MONTH – with money printed out of air – you think that will work? Meanwhile people are not taking jobs and inflation is over 10%….And it is just beginning.

    FACT 1) the mandates are not about health or they would recognize Natural Immunity. They are to force the vaccine

    FACT 2) If the vax gave protection they would not have to force it on the unwilling as the ones wishing it would be protected. 62% of all the ones in UK dieing of covid are vaxed.

    FACT 3) The vax is not a vax, it is NOT sterilizing as a real vaccine is, like Chicken pox or TB. Therefore covid can never be erradicated, and as vacced can get, and pass on, covid, forcing the vax on the naturally immune is pointless in every way.

    There are medical treatments, Ivermectin is almost certainly one of them. I keep horse de-wormer and use it when ever I feel I may be showing symptoms. That all medicines have been FORBIDDEN to be studied shows this is a conspiracy. Only the vax is allowed – and it is forced against every right and freedom, and it has more problems than are allowed to be told. The vax is useful – BUT everyone must weigh their cost/benefit. Young and healthy – old and obese, the two are not – one size fits all.

  • To get involved in the discussion and stay up to date, become a registered user.

    It's simple, quick and free.

    Sign me up