Facebook is insisting that lies and falsehoods about the coronavirus may not be spread nor even mentioned upon the company’s platform. Well, OK, private business, their business:
Almost a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, Facebook is taking its strictest stance yet against vaccine misinformation by banning it entirely. The ban won’t just apply to Covid-19 vaccine misinformation. That means, for instance, posts claiming that vaccines cause autism, or that measles can’t kill people, are no longer allowed on Facebook. At the same time, the platform will also encourage Americans to get inoculated, and will direct people to information about when it’s their turn for a Covid-19 vaccine and how to find an available dose.
These moves, part of a broader push by the company,
It’s that broader push that we need to worry about. The background claim that things which are untrue should not be allowed to be said. For of course, that meal of truth is a variable feast, often enough it depends upon who is defining what is true.
It’s entirely possible to wonder whether the statement “a higher minimum wage causes jobs losses” will be banned as an awful lot of people do insist that it’s not true. We can all make our own lists but the point is obvious – if only the truth may be said then it’s really rather important it is who gets to decide what is true.
Leaving it to Facebook doesn’t really work either. From their list of things that cannot be said:
Claims that can discourage someone from getting a government approved COVID-19 test, including:
Claims that COVID-19 can be successfully tested without an approved test
Claims that COVID-19 tests actually come pre-infected or can infect you with COVID-19
The problem there being that neither of those things are true. Or, read the other way, false.
Logically, the idea that an unapproved test may be able to diagnose must be true. For how is approval gained? By an unapproved test showing that it is indeed a valid test. Thus at any one time there will be tests that are valid but as yet unapproved.
As to the second pre-infecting tests is exactly what CDC did do at one point. Sure, they didn’t mean to, they screwed up as bureaucracies are occasionally known to but that is the truth.
Allowing anyone to define the truth that may be said, untruths that may not be uttered, is a somewhat dangerous game….