A British organisation representing those injured by COVID-19 vaccines has expressed concerns that legitimate discussion on social media could be threatened after a BBC investigation triggered Facebook into removing support groups.
On Friday, the BBC reported that in response to one of its stories, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, had removed several vaccine injury support groups, including one which had over 250,000 members.
However, members of Vaccine, Injured, Bereaved UK (VIB UK) are worried that they are at risk of being unfairly targeted by censorship on social media as they try to pull together voices and support in regards to COVID-19 vaccine damage.
The BBC report looked at Facebook users who were using a carrot emoji to hide “anti-vax content” from the tech giant’s automated moderation tool in groups that it claimed were sharing “unverified claims of people being either injured or killed by vaccines.”
Once the BBC alerted Meta, the unnamed groups were removed.
“We have removed this group for violating our harmful misinformation policies and will review any other similar content in line with this policy. We continue to work closely with public health experts and the UK government to further tackle COVID vaccine misinformation,” Meta told the state broadcaster.
VIB UK spokeswoman Claire Hibbs told The Epoch Times that she has been unable to work after developing vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis after taking the AstraZeneca jab in 2021.
She added that trying to get people together to share their experiences of vaccine damage was an uphill battle on Facebook.
“We have just started a closed Facebook group as we want to offer support to people who contact us, but it’s a struggle due to the censorship and the risk of the page being taken down,” said Hibbs.
‘Struggling on Their Own’
“The thought of somebody on their own who doesn’t have access to support groups and who struggling on their own is heartbreaking,” she said.
“We have started one now but it will be very strict and we monitor everyone that joins and it will be purely just for support for people that have been injured,” she said.
The group is formed of 95 individuals who have either been severely injured or bereaved as a direct result of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in the UK, but they are actively seeking more victims to speak out.
Several members of VIB UK are still waiting for financial support through England’s Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS), which is limited to a single, lump-sum payment of £120,000 ($136,000).
In September, UK politicians discussed in Westminster the lack of support for victims and how the VDPS process of payments could be made “timely and simple.”
Despite recognition from MPs, Hibbs said that discussing such matters online was risky.
“We’ve got this constant battle, as we know that if we left it open for people to join and chat, we know that it will be taken down,” she said.
“We have people that contacted us that have been bereaved and they genuinely just want to speak to people that are in the same situation. As it’s so under-reported it’s so hard to find anyone else to get support,” she added.
Hibbs said that she had the impression that most media outlets are reluctant to speak to them “because they think that we are anti-vax and conspiracy theorists.”
“I had the vaccine in good faith and the next thing I am in the hospital on my death bed. I am not an anti-vax person, but I am not [pro] this vaccine,” said Hibbs.
‘Severely Adversely Affected’
Under VDPS, COVID-19 vaccine harms are recognised when a causative link between vaccination and injury is established and a “severe disability,” or a 60 percent level of disablement, is proven. There are several British law firms calling on individuals to get in touch as soon as possible for such claims.
A private members bill has been forwarded by the Conservative MP Sir Christoper Chope that would “require the Secretary of State to establish an independent review of disablement caused by Covid-19 vaccinations and the adequacy of the compensation offered to persons so disabled; and for connected purposes.”
In March, Chope told The Epoch Times that he believes “tens of thousands have been severely adversely affected by COVID-19 vaccines in the UK.”
Meta and the BBC did not respond to The Epoch Times’ requests for comment.