US Conservatives Have Jumped On The Alfie Evans Case And Facebook Is Fueling It

Alfie's story has been driven by an unprecedented social media surge and seized on by right-wing commentators.

Alfie Evans is a 23-month-old toddler from Merseyside, in the northwest of England.

But now Alfie's story has exploded into a full-blown international controversy, with conservative politicians and media figures on both sides of the Atlantic jumping on it.

Pope Francis has even tweeted about the case.

It has also been seized on by hard-right US figures to push two of their biggest talking points: the right to life and the "horrors" of socialized medicine.

Alex Jones did a segment on Infowars about Alfie Evans with Katie Hopkins, a far-right British contributor to The Rebel Media.

Hopkins has used Alfie's story as a way to criticize the UK's taxpayer-funded National Health Service.

The unprecedented surge in online interest is due to Facebook, which has a number of pages devoted to the case.

The biggest hub of activity, the "Alfie's Army Official" Facebook group, gained 10,000 members in the last 30 days.

A photo of Thomas Evans that was posted to the group Monday has been shared 17,000 times.

Evans also regularly goes live on the group's wall. His videos are regularly being watched hundreds of thousands of times.

And members of "Alfie's Army Official" are constantly going live on Facebook outside the hospital.

Protests outside the hospital have been going on all month.

Alfie Evans' family met with applause & cheers outside Alder Hey Hospital as they walked through the crowds that had gathered to support them #AlfiesArmy https://t.co/O0DUVqHANA

On Monday, after the European Court of Human Rights ruling and the removal of the toddler's life support was announced, protesters tried to storm the hospital past a line of police.

This is the moment a group of Alfie’s Army supporters try to force their way inside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital #AlfieEvans https://t.co/Ms1GVgYW2P

The crowd of 200 people linked arms in front of the hospital, at one point delaying an ambulance on the road.

A number of police officers have prevented any demonstrators getting inside Alder Hey #AlfieEvans

As a result, the hospital has had to inform patients and visitors to expect a police presence.

A woman named Sam Carson went viral for posting about her experience getting caught in the Alfie's Army protest on Monday.

Alfie’s plight is desperately sad, but to those planning on setting off fire alarms at #AlderHey please please think again. You will be interrupting life saving operations, critical procedures, and the care of children who are already frightened 🙏🏻 #AlfieEvans #AlfiesArmy https://t.co/6ZNLoUApAf

BuzzFeed News has contacted Carson for comment.

The sudden level of influence of the "Alfie's Army Official" group comes after Mark Zuckerberg announced in January that Facebook would be showing users more community-driven content.

One site in particular, called Life Site News, has been relentlessly covering the story since last year.

Now the case has become a major conservative talking point on both sides of the Atlantic. On Monday night, Mike Huckabee did a segment about it on Fox News.

Steven Woolfe, UKIP's former migration spokesman and a member of the European Parliament, published on his Facebook profile a letter to the UK's secretary of state for health and social care demanding Alfie be allowed to travel to Rome.

And Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh demanded on Monday that the UK's foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, intervene in the case to allow the child to be taken to Italy.

One tactic some on the far right have used is to compare the treatment of Alfie Evans this week with the attention surrounding the royal birth.

The story also got the attention of US cable news host Liz Wheeler, who has tweeted several times this week about Alfie.

It's also been turned into three separate Twitter Moments by Twitter UK.

Much of the online anger over the case has been directed at Alder Hey and the doctors who have been treating the child.

On Tuesday morning, the British hospital's website was having trouble loading. Its Facebook page has been completely overrun by angry Alfie supporters.

The case comes follows that of Charlie Gard, an infant who had MDDS, a rare genetic disorder that causes brain damage.

UPDATE

This post has been updated with a statement from MEP Steven Woolfe.