Anti GMO/vaccine nurse didn’t delete her tweet after-all; a Twitter tale

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Things can get heated on Twitter, in case anyone hasn’t actually heard about the US president’s personal account. With its 140 character limit, ease of anonymity, and a social media platform that invites people outside your echo chamber more than any other to jump in; Twitter is unlike anything else on the internet.

I love it. From being personally insulted by Fran Drescher to getting retweeted by Stewart Brand, I am absolutely addicted to the chaos.

Unfortunately that chaos can lead to a lot of misunderstandings.

In one such heated discussion, a nurse and organic gardener (Joan Shields) replied to Professor Kevin Folta of the University of Florida that it is negligent for nurses to “advise against the WHOs warning of probable carcinogens.”

She is of course talking about the IARC’s classification of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen for those working with it at a commercial level, just like shift work and being a hairdresser.

Explaining that the World Health Organization does not actually seem to say what she is inferring, Professor Folta appears to have gone to her account looking for her tweet. Well, unfortunately Twitter doesn’t work the same in all browsers. In order to see “reply” tweets in many browsers you have to actually click on “tweets and replies” or you won’t see it. It is also easy to forget when you mute a conversation, as many often do when 46 people are joining in.

Professor Folta jumped to a quick conclusion and accused her of deleting the tweet.

Now, whereas skeptics tend to recognize the difference between someone being wrong and someone lying, many of these anti-science types don’t. The nurse in question has now been spending the last 10 days or so telling everyone and everything that Professor Folta is a liar, accusing him of cyberbullying, and even contacting his university. She claims his mistake is a violation of their social media policy. (Folta has first amendment rights when speaking on matters of the public interest, even if he gets one thing wrong like this.) Now encouraging others to harass his employer.

This is, of course, not the first time she has done this. I too have been a victim of her obsessions. She was part of the gang of Twitter thugs that purposefully reinterpreted what I was saying to try and attack me through my own employer.

Last year when the We Love GMOs and Vaccines page was taken down by a mass campaign to report it, she created an account called “Mary Hutton” where she proceeded to be a “concerned” Maryland parent. Making very similar threats, she even tried to interject herself into bridge building conversations I was having with Erin Elizabeth (Health Nut News on Facebook). According to Erin she outed herself to Erin by saying she wasn’t the “Mary Hutton” account, while using the “Mary Hutton” account.

I suspect she is also behind a new account called “Anthony Mucilli” on Facebook and “OrganicFarmersUnite” on Twitter. The language and techniques are almost an exact match for what she is doing to Folta now.

Evidence is extremely circumstantial, so I will let the fair reader be the judge on that one. Maryland Grain has confirmed that the account has been harassing them on Facebook.

She is perfect at playing a victim though. I poked a little fun at her once, adding a photo of child labor workers to a tweet of hers advocating organic farming and she managed to convince several people that I was perpetuating a massive campaign of harassment against her.

So why write this? Several friends, both online and off, recommended that I just ignore her. Folta included her in a piece about blocking people on Twitter that are just too hostile to discuss with. Unfortunately her behavior is almost reminiscent of a stalker. Many sources recommend dealing with such a person by being firm and keeping records.

Its also a lesson in Twitter engagement. It might be the perfect place to get personally insulted by a celebrity, but be careful with it. Someone doesn’t agree with you and wants to punish you harshly for it.

But most importantly I want her to be aware that she does not frighten us.

Note: Professor Folta was unaware of my plans to write this, and would probably have asked me not to.