Melissa Eaton and Amanda Seigler are American mothers, with the difference that they also raise children with autism. Eaton is a 39-year-old single mother from North Carolina, Seigler is 38 years old, has six children and lives in Florida.
These women, when they finish work and lay their children down, infiltrate incognito-closed Facebook groups with the aim of gaining evidence and then using it to push group members to the authorities. All because they are unable to tolerate group members hurting children. Their own children.
The groups are primarily made up of parents who, like Seigler and Eaton, are raising an autistic child. In the United States, one in 59 children has autism, according to statistics, and doctors are unable to recommend a cure for parents for autism because it occurs as a result of a developmental disorder. Some desperate parents are therefore trying to find a solution on social media and try to cure their child of autism with methods whose effectiveness is at least uncertain, probably completely ineffective, and moreover proven to be life-threatening.
Members of these Facebook groups believe that autism is caused by some kind of virus or bacterium, possibly a poison or parasite, or even the moon. The treatments are just as amazing:
there are those who believe that turpentine can help with this disease,
others swear by the child's own urine.
However, one of the most common treatments is chlorine dioxide. It is actually a bleaching agent.
It is classified by the U.S. Food Safety Authority as an industrial substance and, according to medicine, can cause permanent harm to humans. Still, these parents use it as a medicine to cure their child of autism with it. They give chlorine dioxide to their child orally, in the form of an enema, or while bathing.
The “cure” is recommended for the attention of desperate parents by dozens of books, Youtube videos. A journalist at Business Insider, for example, found hundreds of videos on Youtube in which such a drug is stuffed into people. And NBC , through the wars of Eaton and Seigler, has also shown how easy social media is for the spread of chlorine dioxide cure.
They examine social media at night
“I’m not the kind of person who sees something like that and just forgets,” Melissa Eaton explained to NBC. He thinks this is about hurting children. Amanda Seigler came to the forefront of these Facebook groups in 2015 when she gathered information about autism online.
"It ran through my brain: what if someone wanted to do this to my child?" Seigler asked. A woman does not see autism as a disease, just another condition. He now spends three of his seven days a week touring Facebook for groups whose members he says hurt autistic children. He mostly does at night to keep his kids from getting involved in this world in any way.
The two women work together, usually disguising themselves as parents who are desperately looking for a cure for their child’s autism. This is how they are included in closed groups. Once inside, they screenshot the posts of parents who give chemicals to their children. The authors of the posts are tracked online, and then photos of their posts and the results of their investigation are sent to the local child protection service. Since 2016, more than 100 parents have been reported this way. Posts are also reported on Facebook, sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and child protection organizations.
The groups are full of parents trying to treat their child with chlorine dioxide. In many cases, horrific consequences are reported.
“My child is constantly panting,” wrote a Kansas mother who treated her child with chlorine dioxide. “It doesn’t open its mouth,” a woman from Canada wrote, adding that the two-year-old is unwilling to drink chlorine dioxide but screams and spit instead. Another parent complained that her five-year-old did not like the enema. And there were those who, after pouring in chlorine dioxide, had a strange discharge from their child.
The two women say the worst of all are the commentators, who say all of this is that these reactions prove that chlorine dioxide works. NBC tried to reach the affected parents but received no response to their inquiries.
Eaton and Seigler said they had no idea if their work was effective. Because of the privacy rights provisions in U.S. law, they do not know whether an investigation was initiated following their reports to child protection and with what results. And federal institutions generally remain idle on the grounds of lack of competence or insufficient evidence.
The stimulus threshold of large tech companies has also not been crossed by their warnings until recently. For each report, they were usually given a template response that the posts and groups did not violate the guidelines.
However, this attitude has changed recently due to the rise of the anti-vaccination movement. Public opinion has put increasing pressure on tech companies to prevent the spread of anti-vaccination propaganda on their surfaces, which is already causing spectacular public health problems. As a result, Facebook, Youtube, and Amazon have updated their policies to remove anti-vaccination content. This also had an impact on the contents promoting chlorine dioxide treatments.
However, content that promotes stupidity is still spreading rapidly on social media. Books appear on various techniques on Amazon and eBay. Youtube is full of how-to videos.
“It’s like a sect,” Seigler said.
NBC says even though platforms more often remove this content from their interfaces, instead of every book and Facebook group picked up, a new one is created where desperate parents are offered useless or downright harmful substances to help cure autism. Which, of course, cannot be cured.
NBC also reports a specific case in Indianapolis. Jose Serrano challenged police in 2018 by saying his wife was drinking chlorine dioxide with their two-year-old daughter for the second time to cure autism. The woman eventually got out of child protection and picked up the child from her.
The man and woman became separate at the time, and the man claimed that the woman had secretly taken the little girl to the bathroom to hide the chlorine dioxide drink from the family. Police say the woman took the idea from Facebook. “He didn’t listen to anyone. When we found out, I talked to him, his brothers talked to him. I don’t know if he still lives in this imaginary world, but he’s always been looking for a solution to autism, ”he explained. Since the incident, she has been the caregiver of the little girl, her daughter is now 3 years old, fortunately the chlorine dioxide has only caused her rashes that have disappeared within a few months.
“The little girl is autistic, but her condition is better, she has improved a lot,” Serrano said. NBC also reached out to the child’s mother, who said she never wanted to cure her daughter of autism with chlorine dioxide because she loves it. In the end, the woman was not suspected of anything.
Where does this stupidity come from?
Chlorine dioxide as a medicine was first introduced into the public consciousness by a Scientologist, Jim Humble, nearly twenty years ago. Humble claimed he had successfully used the chemical to cure malaria and came up with it so much that he named it MMS and then realized that it could cure almost anything. AIDS, cancer and diabetes as well. Yet he was not introduced to MMS by the autistic community, but by a Chicago real estate agent, Kerri Rivera.
Rivera wrote in a book published in 2013 about developing a method for using chlorine dioxide in people with autism. He then started pushing this on social media, Youtube videos, Facebook groups, and built his own online consulting service. The woman now has her own clinic in Mexico and claims to have cured more than 500 children from autism.
The ingredients of the “medicine” it recommends are legally available, as chlorine dioxide can be used for many things besides human consumption, such as bleaching. In the United States, however, it is illegal to sell as a drug. Rivera doesn’t even do that, but when asked by NBC, he made it clear that he considered the substance a medicine, and also noted that he had a degree in homeopathy.
Real doctors, on the other hand, emphasize that chlorine dioxide can cause permanent damage to a child’s body — primarily the digestive system and red blood cells — and kidney failure. It's nothing good.
Rivera’s response to this is that if he were deadly, they would already be dead. The thing is, there are some, according to NBC, in the past five years, U.S. health care has counted more than 16,000 cases of chlorine dioxide. Of these, 2,500 patients were children under 12 years of age. It is not known how many of them were autistic. Of the total number of cases, serious adverse reactions were reported in 2123 cases, life-threatening in 50 cases,
And eight people actually died from the complications of chlorine dioxide consumption.
The Food Safety and Pharmacy Office database also reports a 6-year-old autistic little girl who was hospitalized for kidney failure in 2017 after being exposed to chlorine dioxide.
You take one off and then it rebuilds the next day
Emma Dalmayne is a mother in London, she is autistic herself and there are people with autism among her children. He is one of the loudest opponents of harmful “cures” for autism and has been campaigning against the use of chlorine dioxide since 2015. Eaton and Seigler see it as a role model.
As a result of Dalmayne’s activities, Facebook Rivera shut down several sites and groups that had a camp of thousands of followers. Instead, however, new ones always emerged.
“The problem is that you take one off and then rebuild the next day, just in secret,” Dalmayne explained. For this reason, you need a well-disguised camouflage profile, as well as some inner people to warn you when a new group is formed. Otherwise, you won’t be able to push up on Facebook again. You don’t even know most closed groups that way, and you’ll probably never find out about them.
If, on the other hand, the big tech companies themselves decide to take action against camouflage drug propaganda, it is much more effective. In March, Amazon decided to ban Rivera’s book from its surface after Wired wrote that the techie was selling camouflage books. Rivera says Amazon is only engaging in media-generated hysteria. A few days later, Youtube also began deleting Rivera’s videos interviewing mothers who had treated their child with chlorine dioxide. Yahoo deleted Rivera’s mailbox in April. The mailbox was pressed by Melissa Eaton at Yahoo anyway.
Finally, in late April, Facebook also deleted Rivera’s public profile, the page of his book, and a secret group with 550 members. The author, who promotes a chlorine dioxide cure, asked for this and wrote in a circular that Facebook wants to delete their self-help community. Facebook’s reaction was that the groups violated their policies by essentially promoting drugs.
However, even this cannot stop the spread of camouflage drug contents. Although public profiles have been deleted by social networking sites, but private profiles have not, Rivera's private profile is still alive, and her followers can share her content. His Youtube channel is alive, and anyway, dozens of other channels that are happy to voice conspiracy theories have interviewed him, and these are also available.
Melissa Eaton and Amanda Seigler are still following Rivera’s activities on Facebook and other platforms as well. They watch for content that is aimed at parents raising an autistic child. They argue that such content should not be available and it would not be fundamentally their job to deal with this situation. They also work next to them and take care of their families.