About that Vaccine Misinsformation on Social Media

The Government sounds so frustrated that the false warnings spreading among the anti-vaxxers is having more of an impact than their doctors.

You can't shut social media down, that would be a violation of the First (and probably more) Amendments.

But Congress could still take radical action. Here's why I'm not President: No one would go along with my plans. This is what I would do to stop the stupidity of the anti-vaxxers from spreading any further: Get Congress to pass a law that mandates a sales/use tax on all social media postings. You want to post on Twitter or FB, it will cost you a dollar for each one. You want to reply: same thing. Every 30 days the social media companies have to turn in their tax money with a report of how much money they collected. And it better match the number of posts and comments or there will be a hefty fine. [More...]

I don't post on social media, it seems like an invasion of my privacy. But so many people are glued to it. I used to at least read Twitter every few days but it's now filled with ads. Now that I think about it, the sales/use tax should apply to every ad on social media.

As far as I can tell, Instagram is just a site where actors and influencers post pictures of themselves, sometimes posing with products they are promoting for a fee. Good for them, they can pay the tax too.

Now dream of all the money such a tax would bring in, maybe even more than marijuana sales bring. What should the feds do with it? They could put it into health care, health insurance, pay more to Medicare doctors so they don't abandon treating the elderly, fix the infrastructure, tear down every piece of fence built when Donald Trump had a desk in the oval office. And on and on.

Believe it or not, we engaged in mass communication before cell phones and the Internet. Somehow, 500,000 people got to Woodstock in 1969 and to Washington, D.C. to protest the Vietnam War.(See Forrest Gump, I was at that protest as were college kids from just about every state). Back then, we all knew which concerts were coming to town and wre able to spread word of events like activist marches and protests. We knew which theater was playing the movie we wanted to see and what time it started. We figured out when Daylight Savings Time started and ended.

Some of us even practiced law before there were computers and xerox machines. Or before Lexis and Westlaw, when you had to go to the law library and Shepardize by hand, lugging 6 or 7 case law books back to your table.

Even today, word about the protests has spreads without social media. Cuba is a good example, because the government there made the internet inaccessible. In disasters, when power goes out, people go knocking on each others door to check on everyone in the neighborhood. They did it this week in Germany and Belgium.

Social media is for promoters, profiteers and millenials who want to earn quick money or hope to become self-made stars and think they can do that with a laptop in any country that has viable internet. "Influencer" is now an actual profession, according to the media. I'd probably be a digital nomad too if I were in my 20's.

But it's just commercialization. Does it matter whether it's commercialization by people selling the six inch heels they are wearing or their brand of activism on Instagram or Twitter? I don't think so. You could end Twitter and Faceboook and it would make zero difference to hundreds (or at least tens) of millions of people who don't know what it is and don't have time for it anyway.

There is precedent for such a tax: The cigarette tax was used to make people quit smoking. It worked, didn't it? When I moved to Colorado, cigarettes were 26 cents a pack (and gas was 26 cents to 40 cents a gallon.) I still have the little notebooks I used to write down my expenses and contacts in. I wish they made them now.

Would anyone here really miss their Twitter account if they decided to let it go because the government started charging a tax for each use?

A few years ago they made Amazon collect sales tax in all 50 states. I recall people grumbling about it but not calling for the heads of whatever agency or legislative body that forced Amazon to implement it.

Lastly, for once I'd like to see a tax that doesn't affect me. (I'd have no trouble giving up social media accounts I never use). Sales and other taxes (like for TV, cable, phone and internet and cars) are way too high. This would level the playing field a bit and make the people tying up the internet with tweets pay their share.

And it would stop the spreading of misinformation about the vaccines because millions less people will pay to see it.

I'm sure I'm overlooking something, but right now I can't think of it.

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    While there is (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by KeysDan on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 12:50:22 PM EST
    misinformation regarding Covid-19 disease and the vaccines, there is also, in my view, insufficient information regarding longer-term complications or the increased risks for such.

    The disease is presented in terms of hospitalizations and deaths, but the virus can effect almost every cell. Some unvaccinated may think of the disease as being, primarily,  flu-like, maybe even, a bad flu-like disease. Nothing for most to worry about.

    It may be useful to point out that longer-term complications can arise from Covid-19 infections.

    There is a higher risk for pulmonary sequelae, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, blood clots, and neuropsychiatric issues (e.g., brain fog, anxiety, depression). There is an increased risk for erectile dysfunction (6 times greater risk) and there is an increased risk of diabetes (the virus can infect the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas).

    Yes, as a polio survivor (5.00 / 4) (#41)
    by Towanda on Fri Jul 23, 2021 at 01:22:33 PM EST
    dealing with postpolio syndrome for seven decades now -- and it is swiftly worsening now -- I said from the start that longterm complications ought to be a serious concern.

    I was fortunate to have been able to walk again, but many other severe health conditions from postpolio syndrome have been hard. And I now cannot walk far.

    I fear for the covid longhaulers.


    I have been talking to my local bank (none / 0) (#23)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 01:09:58 PM EST
    About a home equity loan.  The guy had not returned my calls for a while.  He just called from home.  He has covid.  He was very sick.  He was unvaccinated.  It scared the shite out of him.

    As you can imagine if you watch the news this is not an unusual story for my area.

    I think what's going to move the ball as far as getting the unvaccinated vaccinated is seeing people they know get very very sick.  Ain't gonna be about news but about self interest.  


    Not everyone I guess (none / 0) (#24)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 02:52:16 PM EST
    But this really just makes the point that at least as far as the white, mostly southern, Trump supporters this is no longer, if it ever was, about information or misinformation.  It's about something else entirely.

    A man who has been hospitalized after coming down with the novel coronavirus told CBS News on Wednesday that he would rather suffer from the disease all over again rather than get vaccinated.

    According to CBS News, Louisiana resident Scott Rowe first got sick with COVID-19 and he subsequently developed severe pneumonia that landed him in the hospital until he was finally sent home this week.

    When asked by CBS whether he'd do anything differently if given the chance again, Rowe said he wouldn't.

    "Don't shove it down my throat!" Rowe said of the vaccine. "That's what local, state, and federal administration was trying to do."

    "What are they shoving, the science?" asked the reporter.

    "No, they're shoving the fact that it's their agenda!" he replied. "Their agenda is to get you vaccinated!"

    Rowe was then shown a statement by local Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) about the importance of getting the vaccine -- and he again replied that he didn't care.

    As a survivor (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Chuck0 on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 04:48:50 PM EST
    After 6 weeks in the hospital, I can say that guy is a moron. The upside is a thinning of the herd. The more of these peopke who die, the better chance this country has to return to greatness and survive. Otherwise, the US doesn't make it another 25 years

    Thinning the herd (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 05:33:42 PM EST
    and I would assume eventually herd immunity.  It's ironic they might sacrifice themselves to achieve herd immunity when what they assumed would happen is they would sacrifice us.  

    Unintended consequences.  They are a beeatch


    Yes, it is true that their "agenda is (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Peter G on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 11:26:00 PM EST
    to get you vaccinated." Because their agenda is to advance and protect the public health of the United States and all its residents. Which is supposed to be their agenda.

    Clearly, I would say (none / 0) (#39)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Jul 23, 2021 at 08:43:31 AM EST
    it is not.

    This guy illustrates a whole new problem that is far more common than you might think.

    Not vaccine denial, vaccine defiance.

    After months of sharing batshite conspiracies and screeching about the vaccine nazis, try to put yourself in their place.  
    I know, but try.
    How can he now slink off an get vaccinated and admit to the world he is and has been an ignorant misguided manipulated sheep.   Imagine the larger policy implications of that.  What if EVERYTHING HE HAS BEEN TOLD IS A LIE?!?

    Choosing covid is almost understandable.  In a sort of psychotic way.


    WHen you think (none / 0) (#43)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Jul 23, 2021 at 06:16:15 PM EST
    about it, COVID is just the latest iteration of this kind of thinking. They would never admit that George W. Bush lied and that there were no WMDs in Iraq. The difference between then and now is that COVID lies are killing them.

    Sadly, no vaccine for stupid (none / 0) (#44)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Jul 23, 2021 at 06:25:11 PM EST
    A new AP-NORC poll of American adults who have not yet received a vaccine finds 35% say they probably will not, and 45% say they definitely will not.

    Just 3% say they definitely will get the shots, though another 16% say they probably will.

    Key takeaway: "What's more, 64% of unvaccinated Americans have little to no confidence the shots are effective against variants -- including the delta variant that officials say is responsible for 83% of new cases in the U.S. -- despite evidence that they offer strong protection."

    Although (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Jul 23, 2021 at 06:33:06 PM EST
    I think the indicators might be lagging a bit here.  I hope.  This was probably mostly taken before the last few day.  Here, at least to me, it feels different the last few days.  They are seeing people drop like flies.  I think that will change the minds of a few percent at least.  I heard today of two more people I know.  One vaccinated.

    I guess you saw what gov Kay Ivey said about this.  It reminded me of talking to my brother in law.  These old line conservatives don't understand, and I think are really shocked by, the stupidity of the deniers.  He said he never imagined they would do this.  Sounds like Kay Ivy didn't either.

    But it's like Trump.  They don't seem to understand or just don't want to admit they created the monster.


    Your last (none / 0) (#46)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Jul 23, 2021 at 07:22:25 PM EST
    sentence pretty much says it all. I did see the clip with Kay Ivey but I'm like well, this has been going on for 18 months now and what were you doing for the last 18 months? It's like Brian Kemp doing a commercial to get people to get a vaccine after 18 months of not taking the virus seriously. We shut down all of 1 month and Kemp opened up tattoo parlors first thing. What is the message there? The message Kemp, Ivey et. al. have been sending out is this is not a big deal, shop 'til you drop etc. So now all their constituents are dying and they are trying to get them to get their shots but they are basically a day late and a dollar short.

    And the (none / 0) (#47)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Jul 23, 2021 at 07:26:03 PM EST
    very thing that they could do that could solve a lot of this is mandate you have to be vaccinated to go to a sporting event, concert etc. essentially have vaccine passports something they are outright banning.

    Pretty soon the private sector is going to step up and start requiring vaccine passports because they don't want 1/2 their workforce out sick. It's not like we don't have an employee shortage already...


    Difficult (none / 0) (#48)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Jul 23, 2021 at 07:28:33 PM EST
    Until they are fully approved.  Well, more difficult.

    Agreed. (none / 0) (#26)
    by KeysDan on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 03:27:13 PM EST
    Hopeless for the hard core Trump wankers.  Even if he can be convinced that the mode of administration is by injection into the arm, not shoved down his throat.

    I would love to point out to him (none / 0) (#27)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 03:49:45 PM EST
    there are alternate orifices in which it might be shoved.

    I (none / 0) (#34)
    by FlJoe on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 05:57:12 PM EST
    can almost understand the "fight against tyranny" fantasy these guys embrace. Delusional sure, but it has long been celebrated in fact or fiction even for the losers.

    The hills they choose to die on however are bewildering from the silly(Mr Potato head) to the arcane(critical race theory) to the truly deadly(vaccine resistance).  


    So the Delta variant is going (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 03:25:50 PM EST
    To knock the crap out of us, but leaders can't figure out how to break it to us. We are going to pretend again that maybe we can avoid this carnage when we know it's too late?

    Too late is self evident (none / 0) (#28)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 04:08:11 PM EST
    in my neighborhood.  See above.  Crap knocking is underway.

    I literally have a little betting pool with myself around which member of the vaccine denier family I mentioned comes down with it first.

    Right now the odds are on the "nice" younger one who lives in the basement.  He has a job in retail.  In a busy place.


    We have probably all seen this site (none / 0) (#29)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 04:26:43 PM EST
    but if you scroll down to the map it's clear the red is centered on MY zip code.

    The numbers are terrifying.  My state is #2 in new cases.  But MO which is less than 20 miles away has twice as many new cases.

    United States    41,310    12    +171%

    Louisiana >    2,006    43    +224%

    Arkansas >    1,173    39    +121%

    Florida >    8,107    38    +227%

    Missouri >    2,193    36    +109%



    The second number in each line (none / 0) (#30)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 04:29:01 PM EST
    is the number per 100,000

    I'm sorry Captain (none / 0) (#31)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 04:38:35 PM EST
    We have people at risk in Alabama. Not immediate family other than children, but it is hard to fathom adults who are going to risk this rolling over the top of them.

    I guess it's not the worst idea I ever heard (none / 0) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun Jul 18, 2021 at 07:13:42 PM EST
    but it seems unlikely

    This is interesting

    Just 12 People Spread Most Covid Disinformation

    July 18, 2021 at 6:04 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard 127 Comments

    "The vast majority of Covid-19 anti-vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories originated from just 12 people," The Guardian reports.

    These 12 online personalities "have a combined following of 59 million people across multiple social media platforms, with Facebook having the largest impact."


    That is not (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Jul 18, 2021 at 07:24:57 PM EST
    surprising judging from my social media feed where I have "friends" post the same misinformation. It all comes from the same source but each person that spreads it touches a different audience.

    That and no critical thinking skills is going to lead to a lot of deaths.


    Instead of a Per Use Fee (none / 0) (#3)
    by RickyJim on Sun Jul 18, 2021 at 08:28:07 PM EST
    Youtube is now charging a monthly unlimited use fee.  Recently they have made it extremely hard to watch without going from Free to Premium.  Who wants to be forced to watch 10 minutes of advertisements before you can start watching a 5 minute video you have selected?  Yep, that maybe is an extreme case but it happened to me.  How this is going to effect the business model of people making millions by posting videos on Youtube and getting a cut of the fees advertisers pay is an open question.

    It's not '10 minutes of advertisements.' (none / 0) (#14)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jul 21, 2021 at 03:52:46 AM EST
    Most YouTube ad breaks are 15 seconds, and longer ads allow you to opt out after 10 seconds. Best not get into the habit of embellishment or the next thing you know, you'll be telling your grandchildren about how soft they have it, when you had to trudge 5 miles through 4 feet of snow to rent a game at the Blockbuster Video store, and your only choices were Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man.



    That is Way it Used to Be (none / 0) (#16)
    by RickyJim on Wed Jul 21, 2021 at 10:18:34 AM EST
    The long ads that you can't opt out of started (for me) in the past two weeks.  I hope more people go on to youtube now and report back here.  TIA.

    It must be what you are watching (none / 0) (#17)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Jul 21, 2021 at 11:46:38 AM EST
    It's not happening for everything.  

    I have been listening to YouTube all morning while I was working.  There is the usual one or two 15 second ads that you can skip completely after a few seconds.

    Try this
    On YouTube search for
    Rousseau Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2

    There are hundreds of videos by this person but that will get you started.  See what happens.  


    Query: tax boggers and commenters too? (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Sun Jul 18, 2021 at 09:35:40 PM EST

    Things are tough all over (none / 0) (#5)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Jul 19, 2021 at 07:45:45 AM EST

    As more than 100,000 people marched around France against government vaccine rules on Saturday, some demonstrators wore yellow stars recalling the ones the Nazis forced Jews to wear. Other demonstrators carried signs evoking the Auschwitz death camp or South Africa's apartheid regime, claiming the French government was unfairly mistreating them with its anti-pandemic measures.

    Wholeheartedly Agree (none / 0) (#6)
    by Coral on Mon Jul 19, 2021 at 09:31:55 AM EST
    Even a 5 or 10 cents tax per post would probably work and shut down most platforms or force them to reformat. All in all the Internet commercial operations are taxed and regulated way too little.

    I would like to see them liable for things their users post, so that they would have to oversee their own users much more closely--just as newspapers edit and winnow letters to the editor.

    The worm appears to be turning (none / 0) (#7)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jul 20, 2021 at 08:17:51 AM EST
    Fox News host Sean Hannity suddenly urged his viewers last night to "please take Covid seriously."

    He added: "I can't say it enough. Enough people have died. We don't need any more death. Research like crazy. Talk to your doctor... I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccination."

    And now he walked it back (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Yman on Fri Jul 23, 2021 at 02:48:49 PM EST
    I wonder (none / 0) (#8)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jul 20, 2021 at 08:37:37 AM EST
    If this is because they figured out its their viewers who they are killing or because the legal department explained FOX news might be held accountable for the misinformation they have been spreading.

    We know the answer (none / 0) (#11)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jul 20, 2021 at 03:52:10 PM EST
    That bit was sandwiched in between two anti vaccine segments.

    It was urging from legal I think.


    I guess (none / 0) (#9)
    by smott on Tue Jul 20, 2021 at 09:55:24 AM EST
    I need to understand how blatant disinformation broadcast over a huge megaphone ie Fox News telling people not to get vaccinated ,  which fairly plainly causes predictable harm - people get sick when they should not have - is protected speech?
    Can some of the legal eagles here advise me?

    The First Amendment freedom of the press (none / 0) (#13)
    by Peter G on Tue Jul 20, 2021 at 10:08:56 PM EST
    like the freedom of speech, is very nearly absolute, subject to a few, narrowly defined, and strictly guarded exceptions. For good reason, the government ordinarily lacks the power to label assertions as false and punish or ban them on that basis. First Amendment 101.

    Hmmm well (none / 0) (#15)
    by smott on Wed Jul 21, 2021 at 09:57:30 AM EST
    We can call Fire in a crowded theater false and not protected can't we?
    What's the diff?

    You asked to be advised (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Peter G on Wed Jul 21, 2021 at 09:55:26 PM EST
    by a legally knowledgeable person. I gave you that advice. If what you really want is to start an argument about it, I don't have the time or energy. All I will say is that famous dicta from a 102-year-old opinion that was supposed to justify a holding that the First Amendment does not bar the government from imprisoning someone who made a speech against the draft for World War One -- an opinion which has rightly been overruled -- is not going to persuade me that what I wrote was wrong.

    Sorry Peter (none / 0) (#20)
    by smott on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 09:00:32 AM EST
    I'm definitely not trying to start an argument.
    Apologies if I came off that way.

    It does seem to me that false info on FB/ Fox et al is doing demonstrable serious harm.
    I wish I understood better why we protect that.


    It seems broadcasters (none / 0) (#21)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 11:52:45 AM EST
    Like FOX are starting to worry about legal blowback.  More than half the country get their news from Facebook.  I think their rational of being unregulated is getting threadbare.

    Why the First Amendment prevents (none / 0) (#35)
    by Peter G on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 11:18:45 PM EST
    the government from banning or punishing objectively "false" (non-commercial) speech is one of the most difficult corners of free speech doctrine. In my initial response I provided a link to the Wikipedia article on the 2012 decision in Alvarez that addresses this issue. If you read the link I provided, and tried to read the decision itself, and still can't understand, I sympathize, but I doubt I can do better at trying to explain it.

    Political Wire (none / 0) (#40)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Jul 23, 2021 at 01:07:53 PM EST
    Could Fox News Be Held Liable for Tucker Carlson?

    July 23, 2021 at 2:00 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard 31 Comments

    John Culhane: "Although the network has recently sounded a more responsible note, that turnabout has by no means been across the entire network and it comes too late for an untold number of people who have been newly sickened or died from the disease, and who might have been saved through immunization."

    "There may actually be some legal remedy, though, for the damage wrought by the network. COVID victims who were taken in by Carlson's vaccination misinformation, or their estates, may be able to sue Fox News under the ancient common law theory of fraud. They would have a reasonably good chance of success, too."



    MTG deTwittered (none / 0) (#10)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jul 20, 2021 at 01:23:21 PM EST
    Not off topic (none / 0) (#12)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jul 20, 2021 at 06:10:08 PM EST
    Biden Nominates Another Big Tech Foe

    July 20, 2021 at 5:22 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard 20 Comments

    "President Biden announced Tuesday he is nominating Jonathan Kanter, a known legal foe of Google and other major tech companies, to head the Department of Justice's antitrust division," Recode reports.

    "If confirmed to his post by the Senate, Kanter will have the power to take on cases to break up Big Tech companies or otherwise limit the size of their businesses. And as head of the DOJ antitrust division, Kanter would also decide how to proceed with the Trump administration's landmark case against Google for engaging in allegedly anti-competitive business practices."


    The Dr who put out this statement (none / 0) (#19)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Jul 22, 2021 at 07:55:08 AM EST
    is now getting death threats so has stopped speaking out.

    Brytney Cobia
    July 18 at 10:56 PM  ·
    I've made a LOT of progress encouraging people to get vaccinated lately!!! Do you want to know how? I'm admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections. One of the last things they do before they're intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I'm sorry, but it's too late. A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same. They cry. And they tell me they didn't know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn't get as sick. They thought it was 'just the flu'. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can't. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.
    As always, I am an open book. Please bring me your questions and I will tell you everything I know and everything I don't.
    It's not too late, but some day it might be.
    Thank you Dr. David B Wilhelm for sharing your medical knowledge with all of us.
    Brytney Cobia, MD

    SITE VIOLATOR (none / 0) (#38)
    by jmacWA on Fri Jul 23, 2021 at 04:27:32 AM EST