Some annoyed NJ warned them about debunked ‘Plandemic’ video
A state-issued advisory about unfounded claims in a the viral "Plandemic" conspiracy theory video — taken down from several online services because of multiple untrue or unsubstantiated statements about COVID-19 — is getting backlash from some New Jersey residents on social media.
A Facebook post by the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management about the video had been shared almost 500 times and prompted over 600 comments by Monday.
"Remember to verify information credibility with reliable sources," the NJ OEM post said, prompting several commenters to voice concern or frustration, saying the government was trying to control what they were viewing, and saying they would make up their own minds as to what to believe.
The video clip itself, featuring medical researcher Judy Mikovits, has been viewed millions of times, even though Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms have taken down the content, citing its inaccuracies. Twitter has issued a warning regarding the video, but not taken it down.
“Science fact-checked the video. None of these claims are true,” Science Magazine wrote in a May 8 article. 'Science' is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Among statements in the video, Mikovits said of a past legal battle “I was held in jail, with no charges.” Court documents demonstrated was not true, among them a civil lawsuit filed by Mikovits herself, as reported by ProRepublica. When asked about that discrepancy, the film's creator said to ProRepublica he felt it was clear that Mikovits meant the charges were dropped.
Also featured in the video are a number of people wearing medical scrubs who appear to be in medical settings. No one is named and no credentials are shared as to whether they are healthcare professionals or doctors. Pro Republica reported that filmmaker Mikki Willis, said he should have identified everyone, but "he was in a hurry to release the 26-minute version of 'Plandemic.'"
The same report quotes Willis as saying he's not yet clear what caused COVID-19, "if it’s an intentional or naturally occurring situation. I have no idea.”
Mikovits in the video suggests wearing masks "activates" the coronavirus. Facebook told Reuters that's among the reasons it took the video down: "Suggesting that wearing a mask can make you sick could lead to imminent harm, so we’re removing the video."
Mikovits also says in the video "There is no vaccine currently on the schedule for any RNA virus that works." Science notes there are vaccines for influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, rabies, yellow fever, and Ebola.
The NJ OEM, in its Facebook post, described Mikovits as an "anti-vaccination activist" and a "discredited former medial researcher." It said she "makes several unsubstantiated and false claims about the COVID-19 pandemic," including that the flu vaccine increases a person's odds of getting COVID-19.
In response to the NJ OEM Facebook post, commenter Jean Marie Leonard said “Ever heard a little thing called Freedom of Speech? In no way is it appropriate for a government office to steer citizens away from a differing opinion. If you don’t think this is flirting with the idea of censorship, you have something seriously wrong with your current view.” Her comment had been "liked" 127 times and "loved" another 21 by late Monday afternoon.
Social platforms such as YouTube and Facebook are not required by law to adhere to First Amendment freedom of speech protections, which only prohibit the government from censoring speech. As private companies, each has its own standards for acceptable material, though both acknowledge they sometimes take material down in error.
Another person on the Facebook page of NJ OEM said that because the video is called a documentary, there have to be facts in it.
Mikovits in the video claims "flu vaccines increase the odds by 36% of getting COVID-19." The Politifact report — one of dozens from major publications debunking "Plandemic" over the last week — notes Mikovits referres to a study among personnel in the U.S. Defense Department suggesting vaccinated officials had a greater chance of getting coronaviruses than unvaccinated officials. But that study didn't examine the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. PolitiFact also notes scientists have taken issues with flaws in that study's design, including that the number of vaccinated subjects was far greater than the number of vaccinated subjects.
The video clip from "Plandemic" is listed on the state's Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness page for "COVID-19 Rumor Control and Disinformation Updates."
"I’ve watched it — I’ll make up my own mind — thank you for your concern but I would think the N.J. OEM has more important things to worry about now than this bs," wrote Donna Przewozny Tronolone, whose comment gathered 132 likes and loves.
Some comments supported the OEM in its warning.
"Why listen to experts (collectively) who have been studying medicine and viruses all of their lives when you can listen to people on Facebook who make baseless claims and tell you truth is power, even when that "truth" has been debunked," Alex Scavuzzo wrote. "Crazy how every medical professional (legitimate) and related scientist have all joined forces with the media to suppress your knowledge and unleash a deadly virus on the population ... it was all in Bill Gates' plan (For the feeble-minded, this was sarcasm)."
His comment had fewer than half as many likes and loves as Przewozny Tronolone's or Leonard's.