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Twitter health amplifiers combat COVID-19 misinformation

CHICAGO — At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when false information about the virus began to spread on Twitter, physicians and scientists from…

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CHICAGO — At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when false information about the virus began to spread on Twitter, physicians and scientists from Northwestern Medicine and other institutions banded together to combat the deadly misinformation and disinformation and support one another when they ultimately were attacked online for doing so. 

Credit: IMPACT (Illinois Medical Professional Action Collaborative Team)

  • Doctors, scientists band together to tweet and amplify accurate health information
  • Goal is to promote public health guidance, combat disinformation and counter harassment
  • Simple infographics created in both English and Spanish attempt to spread accurate information to groups who were not already seeing it
  • Illinois group now combatting false information on reproductive health, firearm violence

CHICAGO — At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when false information about the virus began to spread on Twitter, physicians and scientists from Northwestern Medicine and other institutions banded together to combat the deadly misinformation and disinformation and support one another when they ultimately were attacked online for doing so. 

They formed a new type of professional organization—the health professional amplifier—to tweet accurate health and safety information about COVID-19 and amplify one another “to combat misinformation and drown out some of the noise,” said Dr. Regina Royan, first author of a new Northwestern Medicine paper explaining the genesis of these groups and a member of the Illinois-based health professional amplifier, IMPACT (Illinois Medical Professional Action Collaborative Team), which uses the verified Twitter handle @IMPACT4HC

In the paper, published July 22 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Royan and fellow medical professionals explain how successful this group has been and why it is an effective tool to disseminate accurate medical information and combat disinformation while minimizing the harm related to personal and professional harassment that can come with social media advocacy.

“The pandemic has been really taxing for health professionals,” said Royan (@ReginaRoyan), emergency medicine research fellow and clinical instructor of emergency medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “In addition to the emotional toll caring for these very sick patients, particularly in the early waves of the pandemic, the politicization around COVID-19 added another layer of stress for many of us. One thing we highlight in this paper is that these kind of groups can be a safe space for health professionals to talk about issues like harassment on social media to keep the fight against misinformation going.”

IMPACT and other health professional amplifiers are comprised of nurses, health economists, scientists, public health professionals and physicians, Royan said. They’ve endured public harassment and attacks after posting scientifically proven medical information about the COVID-19 virus and vaccines.

IMPACT has also created numerous easy-to-digest infographics in both English and Spanish around specific issues, such as the effectiveness of masking and social distancing, and how mRNA was used to create the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. It is a creative way the group is trying to reach people who may not have been reading accurate health information, Royan said. 

“We know that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the Latino population, and it’s been important to us to partner with community organizations like Illinois Unidos to ensure that we are also addressing misinformation with Spanish-language resources,” Royan said.  

The group has recently begun to combat false information about reproductive health issues following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. They’ve also started disseminating information about firearm injury, such as a recent tweet that stated, “Fact: Mental illness is not an effective predictor of gun violence against others.”

The study is titled, “Use of Twitter Amplifiers by Medical Professionals to Tackle Misinformation During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Other Northwestern authors include Dr. Seth Trueger and Tricia Pendergrast.


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License Plates Could Be Printed On McDonald’s Bags To Stop Littering

License Plates Could Be Printed On McDonald’s Bags To Stop Littering

There’s been talk about McDonald’s in southwest Great Britain could print…

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License Plates Could Be Printed On McDonald's Bags To Stop Littering

There's been talk about McDonald's in southwest Great Britain could print car license plates on drive-thru bags to prevent customers from littering. 

"It's not clear exactly how the number plate would be printed on packaging, but it could be scanned onto the brown bags that contain the food," Daily Mail noted. 

Chris Howell, Swansea Council's head of waste, parks and cleansing, told a climate change corporate delivery committee meeting: 

"The Welsh Government has explored with McDonald's, or their franchises, whether or not they could print number plates of cars collecting takeaways from their drive-throughs with a view that that would discourage people from discarding their materials (litter)."

Howell said one of the biggest hurdles with fast-food companies is that if one chain adopts the climate initiative, customers will go to competitors that don't print license plates on bags. 

"If McDonald's do it, then people will just go to Burger King instead of McDonald's, because nobody wants to have their private details printed on that packaging." He added: "I think it's a really good idea but at the minute it's fraught with some difficulties." 

The nationalist political party in Wales, Plaid Cymru, first proposed the idea more than two years ago during the pandemic lockdown when party leaders noticed a spike in fast-food trash along city streets and highways. 

Welsh Government spokesperson told MailOnline:

"There are no current plans to introduce a requirement for drive-through restaurants to add vehicle registration details to fast food drive-through packaging.

"We are continuing to support Keep Wales Tidy with other initiatives to tackle roadside litter including their No Regrets campaign and their Adopt a Highway initiative."

Now 'the cat is out of the bag'. It's only a matter of time before governments start forcing fast-food companies to print license plate numbers on drive-thru bags. The dangers of this could be more surveillance, and who knows what corporations would do with license plate data if such a system were implemented. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/26/2022 - 18:00

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COVID Lockdown Protests Erupt In Beijing, Xinjiang After Deadly Fire

COVID Lockdown Protests Erupt In Beijing, Xinjiang After Deadly Fire

Protests have erupted in Beijing and the far western Xinjiang region…

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COVID Lockdown Protests Erupt In Beijing, Xinjiang After Deadly Fire

Protests have erupted in Beijing and the far western Xinjiang region over COVID-19 lockdowns and a deadly fire on Thursday in a high-rise building in Urumqi that killed 10 people (with some reports putting the number as high as 40).

Crowds took to the street in Urumqi, the capitol of Xinjiang, with protesters chanting "End the lockdown!" while pumping their fists in the air, following the circulation of videos of the fire on Chinese social media on Friday night.

Protest videos show people in a plaza singing China's national anthem - particularly the line: "Rise up, those who refuse to be slaves!" Others shouted that they did not want lockdowns. In the northern Beijing district of Tiantongyuan, residents tore down signs and took to the streets.

Reuters verified that the footage was published from Urumqi, where many of its 4 million residents have been under some of the country's longest lockdowns, barred from leaving their homes for as long as 100 days.

In the capital of Beijing 2,700 km (1,678 miles) away, some residents under lockdown staged small-scale protests or confronted their local officials over movement restrictions placed on them, with some successfully pressuring them into lifting them ahead of a schedule. -Reuters

According to an early Saturday news conference by Urumqi officials, COVID measures did not hamper escape and rescue during the fire, but Chinese social media wasn't buying it.

"The Urumqi fire got everyone in the country upset," said Beijing resident Sean Li.

According to Reuters

A planned lockdown for his compound "Berlin Aiyue" was called off on Friday after residents protested to their local leader and convinced him to cancel it, negotiations that were captured by a video posted on social media.

The residents had caught wind of the plan after seeing workers putting barriers on their gates. "That tragedy could have happened to any of us," he said.

By Saturday evening, at least ten other compounds lifted lockdown before the announced end-date after residents complained, according to a Reuters tally of social media posts by residents.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/26/2022 - 12:00

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Anti-Lockdown Stanford Professor: “Academic Freedom Is Dead”

Anti-Lockdown Stanford Professor: "Academic Freedom Is Dead"

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

A Stanford Professor who challenged…

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Anti-Lockdown Stanford Professor: "Academic Freedom Is Dead"

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

A Stanford Professor who challenged the orthodoxy of lockdowns has warned that “academic freedom is dead,” and that all those who have stood up to the regime narrative now face “a deeply hostile work environment.”

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, an author of the Great Barrington Declaration in which thousands of scientists called for a policy of herd immunity over lockdowns, warned that “When you take a position that is at odds with the scientific clerisy, your life becomes a living hell.” 

Speaking at the Academic Freedom Conference at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business recently, Bhattacharya, who previously described lockdowns as the most catastrophically harmful policy in “all of history,” and “the single worst public health mistake in the last 100 years,” noted “we have a high clerisy that declares from on high what is true and what is not true.”

Watch:

In a further interview with Fox News, Bhattacharya noted “The basic premise is that if you don’t have protection and academic freedom in the hard cases, when a faculty member has an idea that’s unpopular among some of the other faculty – powerful faculty, or even the administration … If they don’t protect it in that case, then you don’t have academic freedom at all.”

Bhattacharya and thousands of other academics and scientists were initially vilified for damning lockdowns, but have since been vindicated as the societal and medical toll of the shutdowns has been revealed.

Bhattacharya said of the declaration, “The purpose of the one-page document was aimed at telling the public that there was not a scientific consensus in favor of lockdown, that in fact many epidemiologists, many doctors, many other people – prominent people – disagreed with the consensus.”

The professor then described how proponents of the declaration were systematically frozen out of discussions and debates.

“If Stanford really truly were committed to academic freedom, they would have… worked to make sure that there were debates and discussions, seminars, where these ideas were discussed among faculty,” he urged, adding that  “power replaced the idea of truth as the guiding light.”

“So you have somebody like Tony Fauci who says unironically, that if you question me, you’re not simply questioning a man, you’re questioning science itself,” Bhattacharya further noted, adding “That is an exercise of raw power, where he places himself effectively as the pope of science rather than a genuine desire to learn the truth.”

“They systematically tried to make it seem like everyone agreed with their ideas about COVID policy, when in fact there was deep disagreement among scientists and epidemiologists about the right strategy,” the professor asserted.

Bhattacharya has also called on new Twitter owner Elon Musk to “expose the government censorship regime,”:

Bhattacharya’s comments come as a new analysis of federal and state data revealed that for the first time a majority of Americans dying from COVID were at least partially vaccinated.

“Fifty-eight percent of coronavirus deaths in August were people who were vaccinated or boosted,” the Washington Post reports in a piece headlined ‘Covid is no longer mainly a pandemic of the unvaccinated’.

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Tyler Durden Fri, 11/25/2022 - 14:15

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