Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny at NBC:
In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread. And among those diseases could be COVID-19.
Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong.
Some anti-vaccination groups on Facebook are changing their names to euphemisms like “Dance Party” or “Dinner Party,” and using code words to fit those themes in order to skirt bans from Facebook, as the company attempts to crack down on misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines.
The groups, which are largely private and unsearchable but retain large user bases accrued during the years Facebook permitted anti-vaccination content, also swap out language to fit the new themes and provide code legends, according to screenshots provided to NBC News by multiple members of the groups.
One major “dance party” group has more than 40,000 followers and has stopped allowing new users amid public scrutiny. The backup group for “Dance Party,” known as “Dinner Party” and created by the same moderators, has more than 20,000 followers.
Other anti-vaccine influencers on Instagram use similar language swaps, such as referring to vaccinated people as “swimmers” and the act of vaccination as joining a “swim club.”
A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment but pointed NBC News to the company's efforts to drive users to authoritative sources on Covid-19 vaccines.
The ban-evasion maneuvers by anti-vaccination groups on Facebook and Instagram are ratcheting up as the White House has increased pressure on the social media platforms to do more to contain vaccine misinformation and disinformation.