This has led to a concerted attempt to get Facebook to restore the page under the assumption that it's being 'censored'.
Steven Novella from Skeptic's Guide and Science Based Medicine has come to the defense of WLGV in a new blog post.
Recently the Facebook page, We Love GMOs and Vaccines, was permanently taken down by Facebook and its founder, Stephan Neidenbach, was banned from Facebook for 30 days. What offense did he commit to warrant such draconian treatment? None. He was simply using a Facebook page to promote a pro-science and skeptical attitude toward GMOs and vaccines, specifically to counter the gross misinformation about these technologies by anti-science fringe groups.
If you are going to defend someone and write a piece supporting them, best do some homework first and make sure that support is well placed. Shall we, then?
Is WLGV really some innocent babe in the woods, just trying to promote 'a pro-science and skeptical attitude'? Mr. Neidenbach has already accurately described his own behavior leading up to the removal of his Facebook page here in this now deleted blog titled dramatically; 'The Image That Brought The Queen of Anti-Vaxxers to Her Knees'. Lucky for us, it's in an online archive and you may view it in its entirety here.
Again, a day before the blog post was published Neidenbach is seen here bragging on Twitter about baiting Erin Elizabeth to Steven Novella's Science Based Medicine co-contributor David Gorski (@gorskon):
Note too, that Neidenbach references how he got around having his personal account put in time out:
"The image was unpublished by Facebook some time over night. Fortunately I used an alternate account to post the image, so my personal one was not put in time out by the Facebook “bots”."
He admits to using a sockpuppet account so he would not have to face the consequences for posting content that would be reported for violating Facebook community standards (the Bradstreet meme). This sounds like someone who knows full well what he is doing.
At some point after this the WLGV page was removed, presumed by WLGV admins to be by followers of Erin at Health Nut News. This led to one page admin asking for help from Kevin Folta.
blog post about the incident.
But it didn't last long.
Now, as far as Novella's claim that Neidenbach was 'simply using a Facebook page to promote a pro-science and skeptical attitude toward GMOs and vaccines', I present to you a sampling of WLGV posts made in between sharing other SSkeptic blogs and links to American Council on Science and Health and Forbes articles:
|Making autism a punchline|
|Accusing sick people of faking for attention|
|In case you thought the first one wasn't clear...|
|Comparing people to Stalin and Hitler|
|Page Admin encouraging fraudulent negative reviews in GMOLOL|
|And on WLGV|
Calsetous Juma's ties to industry in the Boston Globe.
|Comparing GMO labels to Holocaust badges?|
|Targeting Joseph Norman, postdoc at NECSI and co-author of the Precautionary Principle (with application the the Genetic Modification of Organisms)|
|Trolling the online Lyme community.|
|Edited to add the location in addition to the full name of organic farmer and Etsy shop Farm Fairy Crafts. WLGV doxxed them multiple times on Facebook as well as on Twitter.|
|Joan's response can be found here on her Facebook page.|
After Joan's daughter defended her mother on twitter, Neidenbach complained that Facebook had 'censored' him.
"The daughter of a quack peddling a juice diet to cure cancer, who I wrote about last week decided to take to Twitter in an attempt to “report” me. Apparently she finds it offensive that I called out her mom for encouraging people to starve themselves free of cancer. Since many groups hostile to science have a habit of attacking teachers, I made the graphic above as a hyperbole. The Zuckerberg bots just saw the flags and put me on a three day Facebook time out and removed the image."
None of this is science communication, clearly. So let's just put that to bed right now.
However, is this truly censorship as is being claimed?
Facebook is a free service - when you sign up, you agree to their set terms of service and community standards. Any violation of community standards will be removed. Facebook relies solely on reports to bring content in violation to their attention.
If WLGV were in violation of these standards or not was up to Facebook to decide - and decide they did as part of the agreement entered into by both parties. And whether or not there was a coordinated effort to report the page, one can begin to see that the page incited this type of back and forth. It really should come as no surprise to them that people eventually got tired of being a punching bag for the amusement of the page admins and their followers.
Despite this pattern of behavior, the SSkeptics are out in full force defending the honor of their club members, all in the name of free speech and science. At the moment there have been several articles written aside from Steven Novella's mentioned at the start.
Kevin Folta: 'Silencing Unpopular Thought with Swarm Complaints',
Genetic Literacy Project hosted two: Science Communicators Condemn Facebook's Censorship of Pro-Science "We Love GMOs and Vaccines" and Stephan Neidenbach's account: Facebook bows to anti-science activists, shuts down ‘We Love GMOs and Vaccines’
Erin Elizabeth who had her page removed shortly after WLGV was deleted gives her account here: The Trolls Took My Page Down, We Won't Be Silenced and This is How to Get My Page Back Up
In response to Health Nut News's removal, both WLGV and Chow Babe have unpublished their pages in protest of the situation.
Look, your Facebook page was removed. Your brother's scooter was not trashed by Hubie Pyatt, Mr. Pyatt did not try to molest you in the office, and you are not an 80's movie character - no matter how bad you want to be.
|Fair is fair! (Except on Facebook, kids.)|
Not that I blame you for trying. But, maybe instead of all this drama of reporting pages, unpublishing pages, shouting censorship! with righteous indignation and grandstanding, perhaps people could oh, I don't know, start acting their age and be accountable for their online behavior?
Maybe if you have a page that says you 'love' something, you should promote that love instead of promoting hate for people who don't love the same exact things, the same exact way you do?
I know that's too much to ask for a lot of people, just like being sure that you if you are going to defend someone publicly that you first be sure they are not actually a bunch of immature cyberbullies who played a stupid game and are now stomping their feet crying because they don't like the consequences of their own behavior.