Anti-Vaccine Groups Changing Into ‘Dance Parties’ on Facebook to Avoid Detection

Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny, reporting for NBC News:

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.

Collins has an accompanying thread on Twitter where he includes a bunch of screenshots showing the coded language. These people are clearly fucking nuts. Here’s one example, all spelling and spaces exactly as posted:

After being around many dancing folks, my teenage son’s Ly mph No des on his neck swelled into little lumps like gum balls. Our very wise, non-dancing doctor says he has an ear infection and a sinus infection. Could this be related to other dancer’s glitter? Has anyone else had this experience? My side F X were different (exhaustion and mega moon occurrences).

Collins, in his tweet thread:

When Facebook reports on vaccine misinfo, they don’t mention Dance Party’s 40k members. They can’t. They don’t know it exists.

It’s also how these groups actually operate. They know what gets caught by moderation bots. They maneuver around it.

The second part of that is clearly true: the groups are obviously evading moderation with these transparent coded terms. The first part I think is wrong: Facebook could identify this and they almost certainly already know what’s going on. They don’t moderate it because letting it go allows them to have their cake (“Look, no more explicit anti-vax propaganda on our platform, see?”) and eat it too (actual engagement continues unabated).

Thursday, 22 July 2021