Earlier this week, we covered a situation where a mother was expressing her pain as her child had been exposed to measles.
In her plea, she begs others to consider that their choice to not vaccinate their children does, in fact, place others at risk. Choices which affected her infant, who is too young to be vaccinated against the Measles virus.
The original post was public, and was shared by Shelby Rushmore into the Stop Mandatory Vaccinations (SMV) group on Facebook, a group created by Larry Cook. Stop Mandatory Vaccinations and Children’s Health Defense were the two groups which were behind over 50% of all Anti-Vaccine ads on Facebook, prior to Larry Cook’s ad creating abilities were removed.
Stop Mandatory Vaccinations group has long been a clearinghouse for anti-vaccine rhetoric, and has been implicated as a tool anti-vaxxers use to identify and share pro-vaccine content so they can swamp the poster with anti-vaccine rhetoric. Their goal is to overwhelm and flood pro-vaccine content in an attempt to diminish, silence, and subvert the readers, hoping they will sway the readers with their rhetoric.
You can see this in action by looking at any of the CDC or WHO Facebook posts with vaccine content. They often flood the post with a multitude of memes and Hundreds of comments with misinformation about vaccines and vaccine safety. Larry Cook and others within the anti-vaccine movement encourage the use of these tactics, and have weaponized them to create discord and spread misinformation to the masses.
While this behavior is troubling when it occurs to government and public health organizations, these tactics become threatening when turned against individuals.
So we return to our original story. So this public post was shared into Stop Mandatory Vaccinations, where the question was asked, for member’s thoughts.
Within minutes of sharing the post, members of SMV started posting comments on this poor mother’s post. These members of SMV inundated the mother’s expression of pain and suffering, not with sympathy, but expressions of doubt at her sincerity, her truthfulness, and her “ignorance” for not being “woke” to the dangers of vaccinations. While the post was public, you could see that many of the comments were unsupportive of the mother, downright hurtful, and the mother was trying remove the insensitive content as fast as possible.
I can only imagine the pain of trying to deal with the fragile state of your child and on top of this be subjected to harassment. Harassment based on the effects and efforts of the members of SMV themselves.
Since we didn’t take screenshots of the original shared post before it was made private, we will have to settle with a little forensic evidence exploration on the SMV post. As we look at the following screenshots of what was said within the SMV group, we can see how much hatred is directed towards this mother.
And the comments continue, blaming the mother for her child’s misfortune, denying that the child was even exposed to the measles, etcetera.
And then we have this comment, which tells us a little more about the family’s story:
As any rational person would do, you would think it would be enough to delete the comments and that should be enough for most people. Most rational people once they’ve said their piece will walk away, but not with this group.
As we look through the timeline of comments, it isn’t long before the mother starts blocking people because of the harassment.
This, this is what SMV is about and is a perfect example of what happens and how they try and silence anyone and anything they disagree with.
The mother changed the post status to friends only, changed her name on Facebook, and locked down her Facebook profile due to the harassment which originated within Stop Mandatory Vaccinations. All of this occurred within an hour of the original post being shared in SMV.
When is enough, enough?
How can we allow harassment and hate to be freely expressed without repercussions? When will the people speak against the harassment and hate which spread forth out of these groups and demand that this stop?