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Calling out fake news: prohibitionists getting owned by community notes

Alastair Cohen
Alastair Cohen
March 28, 2024
5 min read
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The Community Notes feature on X (formerly known as Twitter) has been a powerful tool for calling out fake news from people who don’t want smokers to have access to safer nicotine products.

We’ve seen some really funny - and quite shocking - examples of people who really should know better having their posts torn to shreds by others on the Community Notes feature. So we thought we’d pull together an occasional series where we showcase the best of them. 

We have noticed that sometimes, these do disappear quite quickly. A really well crafted Community Note can often lead to the offending post mysteriously disappearing from the platform. Some people don’t appreciate transparency. So if you’re going hunting for these, make sure to take screen shots.

We asked our followers on Twitter to point out some of their favourites:

4. Australian MP and the non-existent “gateway effect”

Thanks to @Dale__Roberts for pointing out this instant classic from Australian Member of Parliament Shayne Neumann.

Neumann claimed - without citing evidence - that young people who vape are three times more likely to smoke. But X users quickly pointed out that there were precisely no studies what had demonstrated any causal relationship between the two, while providing a plethora of sources that Mr Neumann might read if he wanted to learn more about the topic.

We wonder if he ever did read them.

3. US Congressman can’t do math

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi has been on a crusade to get vaping banned across America, and he has been prone to misusing statistics along the way.

In December last year, the Member for Illonois 8th district claimed that more than half of students were using Elf Bar. In fact, the number was less than 5%, ten times less than the Congressman claimed.

Twitter users were happy to point out that his claims were 10 times higher than reality based on data from the Center for Disease Control.

2. UK Health spokesman misunderstands how “no smoking month” works

Spokesman on health for the Democratic Unionist Party in the UK, Jim Shannon, marked no smoking month by telling followers that it’s “important that people are aware of the risks associated with vaping”. 

The real irony here is that his tweet came with an image used to promote vaping as a means to stop smoking, which was circulated by the Government in Northern Ireland.

The note pointed out that vapes are the most popular stop smoking aid in the UK, and that they’re better than NRT for smoking cessation; citing high quality evidence along the way.

1. WHO tries to claim that vaping isn’t safer than smoking

In what must be the worst offence we have seen to date, the WHO tried to claim that the idea that vaping is safer than smoking is a “myth”. In fact, they’ve tried this twice - once from their Eastern Mediterranean Office and once from their Western Pacific office - with tweets claiming to be “mythbusters” actually perpetuating the myth that vaping is just as harmful as smoking.

Luckily, X users were on hand both times to correct the record, citing high-quality sources like the CDC and Public Health England.

 

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