Anti-Vax Advertisement Banned From Facebook After Mom Complains It's Spreading 'Misinformation'

Anti-vaxx ad
Stop Mandatory Vaccination/Facebook

An anti-vax advertisement has been pulled from Facebook after a mom complained that the ad was presenting false information. The ad, sponsored by a group on Facebook, claimed that vaccines can kill your children and if he or she were to die, doctors might claim that the death was caused by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Well one mom online couldn't take the lies and reported the ad for "misinformation." And now the Advertising Standards Authority has banned the propaganda from being shared in the United Kingdom for causing "unjustifiable fear or distress."

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According to a ruling made by the Advertising Standards Authority, which has jurisdiction over the UK's advertising, a complaint was made in reaction to an ad sponsored by Stop Mandatory Vaccination a Facebook group "devoted to helping others understand why to oppose mandatory vaccination legislation and how to get involved."

The ad claimed that not only will “any vaccine given at any age will kill your child," but also tried to tell parents that "if this unthinkable tragedy does occur, doctors will dismiss it as ‘Sudden Infant Death Syndrome’ (SIDS)."

The caption accompanies a picture of a newborn whom the Facebook group claimed died 48 hours after he was given a combination of eight different vaccines.

Stop Mandatory Vaccination
Stop Mandatory Vaccination/Facbook

The anti-vax movement has been a hot-button issue for years, starting when Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a now widely debunked study in 1998, claiming there was a connection between the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and "behavioral regression and pervasive developmental disorder in children." Wakefield and his team were later found guilty of "deliberate fraud (they picked and chose data that suited their case; they falsified facts)" and the journal that originally published the study has since retracted the paper. But the damage had already been done. 

The rumor that MMR vaccines are the leading cause of many illnesses in kids has spread like wildfire. And groups like Stop Mandatory Vaccination are now trying convince parents they shouldn't be vaccinating their little ones. 

Which is why one mom chose to speak out against the ad that had popped up in her Facebook feed. She complained to the ASA, telling it the information presented in the ad was "misleading," "unsubstantiated," and that "the ad was likely to cause undue distress." 

The agency took the complaint to SMV creator Larry Cook, who attempted to prove that his group wasn't sharing false facts, with data from the US Health Resources and Services Administration. 

"The document (provided by Cook) reported the number of claims filed for compensation as a result of alleged injury or death caused by vaccinations and the amount of compensation awarded as part of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program," the ASA noted in its ruling. "They said that the document showed that in the US, the Vaccination Injury Compensation Act had paid out over 4 billion dollars for death and injury because of vaccinations."

But the ASA wasn't convinced. It argued that the data showed that between October 1, 1988, and August 8, 2018, "a total of 6,122 claims were compensated for injury and death alleged by vaccinations and 11,214 claims were dismissed."

"While we acknowledged that those figures showed that a large number of claims had been compensated in relation to alleged injury or death caused by vaccinations, we noted that the report stated that settlement was not an admission of liability and did not determine whether the vaccine had conclusively caused the injury or death," it added. 

Additionally, the agency took issue with the photo of a newborn used in the ad. The ASA felt the image could be "distressing to readers, especially parents" and took issue with the claim that “any vaccine given at any age kill your child.”  

"We considered that this would be understood to mean that all vaccinations were proven to cause death to children," the ASA argued. This is clearly not true.

"The ad also featured the claim 'doctors will dismiss it as "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,"' which suggested that doctors did not realize that the vaccines were capable of killing children," it added. "Because we had not seen evidence to demonstrate that all vaccinations were capable of causing death in children, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause fear without justifiable reason in breach of the Code."

While the ASA has no effect on US advertising policy, in the UK, it has decided that the "ad must not appear again in its current form." 

A version of the ad can still be seen in the US on the SMA Facebook page, but for now, it is forbidden "to state or imply that all vaccinations could cause death to children unless they held sufficient evidence to demonstrate that" in the UK.

 "We also told them to ensure their marketing communications did not cause unjustifiable fear or distress," the agency added.

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