[News] The Internet Was a Mistake

A thread for updates on the various ways the internet is destroying everything and the undying hellsites of social media. Let's all laugh at the abyss.

On Facebook, fears of parasites push people to post pictures of feces and pursue dangerous remedies

Fears of parasites have led thousands of people to post pictures of their own feces in a private Facebook group and then pursue a range of remedies proposed by other group members that medical experts consider unsubstantiated by scientific research and potentially dangerous.

The posts are another example of the wide variety of health misinformation that can be found on Facebook, and add to the pressure on the social media giant to rein in such misinformation, if not ban it outright.

The posts in these groups follow a clear pattern: A member writes about a perceived health condition or symptoms along with any regimen they’re undergoing. Then, in the first comment, the member usually follows up with a photo of what they claim is their poop.

These people are all convinced that their bodies are littered with parasites.

“What is this? It feels like a slug. It is at least 2 inches long and it is the only thing that came out. Pic in comments,” reads a recent post in the Humaworm Parasite Removal & Natural Health Group, which has 33,000 Facebook members.

Humaworm is just one of many Facebook groups in which people come together to share and diagnose what they claim are parasitic infections. The groups also share a variety of treatments that are not backed up by science.

One private group with 1,300 members, called “Parasites cause all Disease,” promotes drinking turpentine to cure ailments.

Parasites, which are organisms that live on or in a host that also serves as its food source, are a legitimate health concern and can cause diseases such as malaria, toxoplasmosis and Chagas disease. But the claims made by Humaworm and other parasite groups — that 90 percent of Americans are hosts to parasites that are making them seriously ill — are drastically overstated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And while these groups have been under pressure from authorities, including a recent raid by federal agents on the business behind the Humaworm group, they have so far been successful in sidestepping Facebook’s broader crackdown on health misinformation in part by adapting to new rules, including the use of coded phrasing such as “fairy tales” in an attempt to portray their activities as works of fiction.

The group’s members, however, clearly take the topic seriously. Many of the posts come from parents looking for ways to treat what they believe are parasites in their children.

“What is a safe way to start a 5 year old on a parasite treatment/cleanse?” one mother posted this week.

So the Internet Didn't Turn Out the Way We Hoped. Now what?

A collection of articles about the future of ye olde internet.

Majority of anti-vaxx ads on Facebook are funded by just two organizations

The majority of Facebook ads spreading misinformation about vaccines are funded by two organizations run by well-known anti-vaccination activists, a new study in the journal Vaccine has found.

The World Mercury Project chaired by Robert F Kennedy Jr, and Stop Mandatory Vaccinations, a project of campaigner Larry Cook, bought 54% of the anti-vaccine ads shown on the platform during the study period.

“Absolutely we were surprised,” said David Broniatowski, a professor of engineering at George Washington University, one of the authors of the report. “These two individuals were generating the majority of the content.”

Cook uses crowd-funding platforms to raise money for Facebook ads and his personal expenses. The crowd-funding platform GoFundMe banned Cook’s fundraisers in March 2019. YouTube has demonetized Cook’s videos.

Kennedy is the son of the former US attorney general Bobby Kennedy. He also has a nonprofit focused on environmental causes. Kennedy’s brother, sister and niece publicly criticized his “dangerous misinformation” about vaccines in May. They called his work against vaccination, “tragically wrong”.

In fact, vaccines are one of the safest and more effective medical interventions ever developed.

The Vaccine journal study is the first to analyze anti-vaccine ads in Facebook’s advertising archive. The archive is an ad disclosure database Facebook created after the platform was criticized for spreading untraceable misinformation during the Brexit referendum and 2016 US presidential campaign.

Facebook has more than two billion users and roughly 68% of Americans get their news from the platform, the study said. In 2019, the World Health Organization named vaccine hesitancy as one of the world’s top 10 global health threats.

I thought this was fitting and worth bringing across.

(Credit to Prederick. I simply shared.)

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The Dark Psychology of Social Networks - Why it feels like everything is going haywire

Suppose that the biblical story of Creation were true: God created the universe in six days, including all the laws of physics and all the physical constants that apply throughout the universe. Now imagine that one day, in the early 21st century, God became bored and, just for fun, doubled the gravitational constant. What would it be like to live through such a change? We’d all be pulled toward the floor; many buildings would collapse; birds would fall from the sky; the Earth would move closer to the sun, reestablishing orbit in a far hotter zone.

Let’s rerun this thought experiment in the social and political world, rather than the physical one. The U.S. Constitution was an exercise in intelligent design. The Founding Fathers knew that most previous democracies had been unstable and short-lived. But they were excellent psychologists, and they strove to create institutions and procedures that would work with human nature to resist the forces that had torn apart so many other attempts at self-governance.

For example, in “Federalist No. 10,” James Madison wrote about his fear of the power of “faction,” by which he meant strong partisanship or group interest that “inflamed [men] with mutual animosity” and made them forget about the common good. He thought that the vastness of the United States might offer some protection from the ravages of factionalism, because it would be hard for anyone to spread outrage over such a large distance. Madison presumed that factious or divisive leaders “may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States.” The Constitution included mechanisms to slow things down, let passions cool, and encourage reflection and deliberation.

Madison’s design has proved durable. But what would happen to American democracy if, one day in the early 21st century, a technology appeared that—over the course of a decade—changed several fundamental parameters of social and political life? What if this technology greatly increased the amount of “mutual animosity” and the speed at which outrage spread? Might we witness the political equivalent of buildings collapsing, birds falling from the sky, and the Earth moving closer to the sun?

America may be going through such a time right now.

If the internet were the Earth of biblical times, Facebook would be our Tower of Babel. So until God smashes it down, I'm an atheist.

The most recent Behind the Bastards has the creator of 8chan on as a guest who is now an activist trying to keep 8chan down, and it is FASCINATING.

Since there's a particular current of thought that is behind a lot of the internet hate, a recent academic paper on How Deep Does the Rabbit Hole Go? The “Wonderland” of r/TheRedPill and Its Ties to White Supremacy.

And since this series of threads arose out of the context of responding to that time in 2014, I'll also stick a link to Deadspin's (rest in peace) article about Gamergame. And the NYT's recent retrospective. Though of course it by necessity of length leaves out a lot of details. Like how those damning chat logs were relessed by the Gamergaters themselves, under the delusion that they sounded reasonable.

I didn't follow Charlie Kirk, so looked at his last several tweets. What a PoS. He's just another propaganda mouthpiece for the right, yet he pretends to promote a platform of inclusivity for the GOP and shuts down white supremacists. It's a fine line to walk and appears to be backfiring.

Is Ben Shapiro next?

JeffreyLSmith wrote:

Is Ben Shapiro next?

I can but hope/dread.

Kirk is getting the brunt of it because he kicked out one of the more popular Nazi talking heads from a conservative event earlier this year, but Shapiro has been in their sites for awhile now as well... as is a number of other conservative media figures that they feel aren’t vocal enough about the power of the perfect aryan skull shape.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

I have always been so impressed with him out of character which is funny because I've been super meh on his characters. His Fresh Aire interview from years ago made me realize he was a force.

Bravo, Sacha Baron Cohen.

The writer makes some valid points but the second half of the argument loses me. Social media platforms absolutely need to be treated as publishers/broadcasters, IMO.

Meh, it's pretty disingenuous to write off what SBC gets people to do as people just trying to be friendly and accommodating, so they lost me on all points. Section 230 is good in most cases, but there needs to be a mechanism for rescinding its protection for large entities like Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter when they deliberately let hate speech flourish. To avoid putting an undue burden on small entities they could have it only apply to providers with a large number of users; like how some rules for employers kick in based on how many employees a company has.

"People are just being polite!" has been around since 2006, and the last three years have been a pretty thorough evisceration of that idea.