Is posting dangerous information against the rules?

Continuing the discussion from Trolls R Us Resurrections:

As a general rule, we rely on posters to correct ludicrously misinformed viewpoints. But some viewpoints may actively encourage dangerous behavior.

So is it, or should it be, against the rules to post dangerous misinformation? Should I be modded if I posted that the FDA had determined bleach not only safe to drink, but is clinically proven to cure rickets and insomnia?

I think it should be, at least to some degree. Someone suggesting that others take ivermectin to combat covid should be immediately shut down. Someone posting ridiculous and easily disproven dangerous information, like that vaccines don’t work, should get some sort of ding.

The counterpoints are the board’s mission of fighting ignorance and the unlikelihood that anyone who’s a member here will take such advice.

I don’t believe that anyone who comes here to post such nonsense is doing so out of ignorance, and even if they are, it’s not an ignorance that we can fight with facts.

Agreed. There’s all kinds of misinformation that’s allowed here (well, some like 9/11 Truth claims are no longer allowed out of sheer exhaustion), and the board is expected to refute the misinformed. That’s fine.

But, when the misinformation is clearly dangerous and not clearly in jest, there should be a mod note at least, and repeated violations causing warning and, eventually, banning.

We’ve touched on this in other ATMB threads - because it brings us back to a cardinal rule, where we can’t just call someone out for being a liar. If someone spreads dangerous, factually false disinformation, you can carefully dismiss the presented information, but you have to be careful that you aren’t accusing the person of deliberately spreading misinformation and/or lying.

Like a lot of issues that come up in ATMB, I suspect the answer is flag it and let a mod note/warn/suspend persons who do so, perhaps on an accelerated basis.

Right, but there’s nothing to flag if there’s no rule against posting dangerous misinformation, right?

IME, you don’t have to name section and paragraph of the SDMB Code in order to call a moderator’s attention to a problematic pattern of posting.

It’s why we use the “Other (explain)” reporting option.

First, let me be clear I agree with you. I wanted to highlight this because I think there is a certain level of misinformation where a pattern is not needed. A single post that states vaccines have never worked against viruses and people caught COVID from the vaccine is enough for mod action in my opinion.

One problem with relying on other posters to refute the misinformation is that someone reading along can’t necessarily judge who is correct. Poster A says “vaccines cause COVID” and Poster B says “that is a blatant falsehood” - to someone who doesn’t know, it can seem like a topic up for debate, the truth lies somewhere in between.

So I’d like to see a post with dangerous information that is clearly incorrect be clearly modded. Add a staff note above it saying “the information in this post is false.” Post a colored moderator message with a more clear explanation in the thread.

Looking for a pattern can come into play when deciding if it’s just a note or justifies a warning.

For what it’s worth, I generally agree with the idea that mods avoid drawing bright lines when it comes to topic moderation. But in cases like this I would prefer to see it explicitly against the rules.

People have certainly been modded for it before. At least one poster was banned from participating in medical threads in GQ for posting consistently bad information.

But of course that was in GQ (I think, damn aging brain), which is supposed to be held to a higher standard. Posting utter nonsense in the Pit? I dunno.

Taking it in excess is extremely easy since the stuff you get at the feed store is dosed for animals many times heavier than humans.

So yes, I think saying stuff like feed-store ivermectin “is not likely to harm” should be against the rules. It is false and potentially dangerous. Qualifying it with “unless taken in excess” doesn’t help. Every substance in the universe is dangerous in excess.

The problem is that no doctor based in reality would prescribe it. So anyone being recommended it would have to get it themselves.

And, in othat context, it very much is dangerous. It’s very easy to overdose on because the safe amount is rather low.

I could see an exception if you explicitly say to talk to your doctor about a potentially dangerous medication like this. But, given the current cultural context, the default with this one would be that they noare recommending it without a doctor’s supeevision for an illness it is not been approved to treat.

For the record:

Even the levels of ivermectin for approved human uses can interact with other medications, like blood-thinners. You can also overdose on ivermectin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death.

That’s why it’s dangerous.

I don’t think we want this to be a discussion about specific advice though, aren’t we talking about offering potentially dangerous advice in general? I’m also curious that if the answer is “yes”, then how do we determine what is dangerous? (I assume that the mods can use their own judgement as to the difference between someone legitimately asking questions about the subject, or a person who made a mistake to be corrected, and someone consistently pushing a dangerous agenda, and we don’t need a written rule about that.)

100% agree. A moderator should say that it’s 100% false. The rest of us can take care of it if the poster want’s to continue the debate about their false ideas.

I support the idea of sanction(s) against a poster who gives bad advice posing immediate danger of harm. To cite an example touched on earlier: advising a parent with an autistic child to give them MMS enemas (MMS being chlorine dioxide bleach).

Where warnings/bans become problematic is when they prevent discussion of wrong-headed advice that is likely to pose a health risk at some point in the future according to the best medical evidence. It’s inadvisable in my opinion to pre-emptively shut down praise of fad diets, naturopathic treatments or vaccine avoidance. There’s enough knowledge and good sense here to handle such arguments without automatically invoking moderator action.

Just to clarify, what I mean by this is that I don’t think we need to spell out the difference between legitimate inquiries about dangerous subjects, or a dangerous opinion being made by a person, and a pattern of promoting dangerous misinformation in such a way to reveal a harmful agenda. Moderators can figure that out I’m sure.

Agreed. I was going to point out something like a person pushing homeopathic remedies. That is the exact example I considered making. While I am opposed to people pushing woo, it isn’t immediately dangerous for a person to take useless “remedies” like cupping or Zicam (the later one that isn’t toxic). It might be dangerous if a person avoids useful medical treatments because they put faith in woo, but as long as the woo isn’t itself directly harmful I don’t think it should be necessary to forbid it. (As much as I personally detest that misinformation.)

Anti-vaxxers are harder for me to say that I’m okay with but I think in the spirit of consistency I’d have to admit that spreading misinformation about the danger of vaccines is also not directly harmful. It’s painful for me to write that but if I’m being honest, while I do believe it’s risky behavior (not just for one person but for anyone else they come in contact with), it’s not immediately dangerous. I have to reluctantly state that most vaccine hoaxes should probably not be immediately suppressed as dangerous the same way promoting ivermectin would be.

Although I could see a time when it’s treated like 9/11 truther stuff in which it gets banned just because it’s tedious and beating a dead horse, and we’ve said all there is to say about it.

The utter nonsense was also posted in the Quarantine forum…

Problem: For any given topic where the reader can’t necessarily judge who is correct, the moderators likewise can’t necessarily judge who is correct, either. We’re human, too. Or to look at it the other way, what we can tell is untrue, other readers can also tell is untrue.

I agree with the OP. The Board moderates when people discuss directly committing illegal acts. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to extend that to discussing directly making dangerous acts. However, I would be worried about mission creep when deciding what is “harmful misinformation”. If I say you have better immunity when how have already have had covid, is that dangerous misinformation? Is it even misinformation? But if I go on and say you should go out and purposefully get infected to build up your immunity (yes I know that makes no sense) then mods should definitely be considered a rule-break.