I’ve seen some chatter about some child abuse advocacy groups having their pages deleted by Facebook recently, and out of curiosity, I decided to dig into their other social media accounts to see if that may have been justified. As much as they are claiming it couldn’t have been, the more I look at what they were doing, the more I didn’t really feel sorry for them any longer.
Here’s the thing. Facebook has made it clear over the last few weeks that it’s coming for any and all accounts, pages, groups, etc. that spread the kind of disinformation about child trafficking that has been put out by the QAnon groups. They are especially going to go looking for pages and groups spreading the same hashtags, the same stories and the same false information. And yes, there are far, far too many child abuse advocates who’ve been perfectly willing to continue sharing the same, false, conspiracy theories. They’ve played the game, using the hashtags that get attention from the QAnon supporters, spreading the lies under the guise of “we know these kinds of things do happen”, even when the stories had no basis in reality, and only served to put perfectly innocent people in danger of being hunted down by unhinged followers of this group.
Look, for some of these groups, I don’t think they were thinking it through that far. They just saw some information spreading, getting popular, and getting people outraged about an issue they care strongly about. They didn’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out if it was all BS or not, they were just glad to see that some group was serious about protecting children. So they hopped on board. But, as the saying goes, “when you lie down with dogs….”
Am I sad that there are fewer child abuse advocacy groups on Facebook overall? Sure. But, what makes me sadder is how many legitimate advocacy groups fell massively short of their duty to tell the truth to their followers. How many continued to share these theories well after they were disproved in some bizarre effort to show how much more they cared about children, while diverting attention and resources from real victims and organizations trying to help them.
So no. I don’t feel sorry for you if your page was taken down by Facebook for violating their terms of service around spreading disinformation. You owed real survivors, and the people who followed you to learn more about true child abuse stories, more than that. You are right about one thing, child abuse and child trafficking is an incredibly important issue. Spreading lies doesn’t help that message, it provides the rest of the world an excuse to ignore it. If you truly want to advocate for children, stick to the truth, or suffer the consequences.
Also, for at least one of these groups, who shall remain nameless, you might also take this as an opportunity to spend less time and effort building a following on a platform that you don’t own, and maybe take some time adding something more recent than 2018 on your own website. Especially if that same website is asking for donations. It’s not a good look to ask for money, and have no evidence that it goes toward anything. That’s the platform you own and control, not one that can, and will, remove you without warning for violating their rules.