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Anti-vax Facebook group attracts thousands, shut down twice


Facebook has removed a group opposing coronavirus vaccinations in Israel for the second time, after it attracted thousands of followers, N12 reported.

The group’s name, “Saying no to the green passport,” has made headlines in the past couple of weeks, after posts made by some of its 14,000 members were shared outside the group and led to many people demanding its removal.

One post that stood out called on the group’s members to deliberately try and harm the efficiency of Israel’s vaccination campaign by scheduling vaccination appointments and missing them on purpose, attempting to waste vaccine doses and to delay the process. 

Another popular strategy deployed by anti-vaxxers is circulating fake news reports about made up complications and death caused by the vaccine. Such reports are considered especially harmful, as they are quickly circulated on social media and increase fear among those interested in being vaccinated but are still hesitant for different reasons.

The Health Ministry recognized the problem relatively quickly, and last week announced that it would establish a designated team with the sole purpose of locating groups that spread fake news and would work to remove them while simultaneously generating more pro-vaccination information.

So far the effort has been working. Facebook first confirmed that it had removed the “Saying no to the green passport” group more than a week ago. But the group soon resurfaced, quickly attracting thousands of people yet again.

Some of its members insisted that they are not all anti-vaxxers as various media reports have portrayed them, but rather oppose the coercion of vaccines on people by the state, stressing that it violates basic human rights.

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As Israel readies to reopen its education system, commerce and culture, people who cannot provide a certificate proving that they were vaccinated or recovered from the virus may face a number of restrictions and prohibitions.

Before being shut down for the second time, the group’s description read: “Many people oppose the green passport and its coercion,” suggesting that “alternative cultural events and commerce areas” are offered to people who have not been vaccinated in order to allow them to return to normal life as well. “It’s not a perfect, but it will provide a solution for many people who can’t be ignored.”

Some have even chosen to compare Israel’s vaccination campaign to the Holocaust, spreading posts that show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Nazi uniform.

The group maintains that it raises questions regarding the appropriate limits that should exist between personal freedom and collective responsibility, while questioning the balance between basic human rights in a democratic country during a global pandemic.

Facebook was not convinced, however, and on Tuesday closed the group for the second time after it attracted some 12,000 followers in the past few days.





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