Update 12:54 pm, January 10, 2014. Facebook rescinded the ban of AntiVaccine Wall of Shame. Thank you Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/AVWOS/ Allison Hagood's account has been unbanned.
Update 3:12 pm January 10, 2014. All of the administrators of AVWoS are still banned -- one for as long as 30 days.
Update 3:55 pm January 10, 2014: While the page has been restored, the bans for all admins (24 hours for Michelle Saxl, 3 days for Lance Penna , 3 days for Michael Simpson's account, 7 days for Allison Hagood, and THIRTY DAYS for Scott Ogle are still in effect.
Facebook still needs to fix that.
A new banning just took place. There’s a Facebook page called “The Antivaccine Wall of Shame” (AVWoS). It has been taken down. Allison Hagood (one of the co-authors of ‘Your Baby’s Best Shot) has had her personal account banned from Facebook for 7 days. Here the message that Allison received from Facebook, relative to AVWoS
Here is Allison’s reply to Facebook:
There is nothing hateful, threatening, or obscene about the group "Anti Vax Wall of Shame." The fact that you have removed this indicates that you have been receiving fraudulent reports from the anti-vaccine movement, who are on record as coordinating and planning massive campaigns of such fraudulent reports in an attempt to censor those of us who recognize established science in this area. Several stories have been written about these campaigns:
By removing this group, and giving the administrators of this group bans, you are actively participating in the censorship of science and rational thought, and pandering to the perpetrators of censorship and fraud.
It is legitimate for Facebook to prevent harassment, and without context, the Anti-Vaccine Wall of Shame does look as if it might border on harassment.
Dorit Reiss (who wrote the Times of Israel piece, “Abusing the Algorithm: Using Facebook Reporting to Censor Debate") suggests the following be publicly explained to Facebook as context:
To understand the need for the Anti-vax Wall of Shame, and why it is not harassment, you need to understand two features of the fight against anti-vaccine misinformation. The first is that anti-vaccine sites censor debate. So if they encourage people not to vaccinate their children against polio or tetanus - leaving those children at risk - based on misinformation, you cannot correct that misinformation on the page: they will ban and block you. The second feature is that anti-vaccine activists, lacking facts on their side, regularly engage in personal attacks.
There is documentation of personal attacks by antivaccine advocates on Facebook, in the form of screenshots and a closed Facebook page that collects said attacks. For example, the exchange below, which has both a personal attack on Allison Hagood and a suggestion that readers contact her employer to complain. (I personally collected this one and have a large library of such attacks.)
Dorit Reiss (who has also been attacked, sometimes with vile anti-Semitic slurs) goes on:
[Th]ose of us engaged in this debate regularly face personal abuse. (On Facebook and on websites outside of Facebook.) The Anti-Vax Wall of Shame (AVWoS) does two things in this context: it allows us to call out the behavior, both the misinformation and the abuse - to publicly criticize and point out the problems, alerting people to it. And it allows those engaged in this fight, facing constant abuse, to vent their frustrations and cry out. This enables them to keep fighting.
To prevent the critique from becoming harassment, AVWoS page rules require removal of names and pictures, except when discussing a public figure. This makes the critique not personal - and not harassment. Do individual commentators sometimes step over the line and into harassment? Possible. But that does not make the page a hate group or a focus of harassment. Its role does make it a target of anti-vaccine activists, unhappy with being criticized. But that is not a reason to remove it, and their unhappiness is not something Facebook should be a part of."
I am frustrated by Facebook's hair-trigger ban hammer, and how it can be sued to stifle approrpriate criticism and public discourse. I don't have any answers.