By Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, DO, AOBNMM, ABIHM
Last week, I was contacted by Ms. Julia Wong, stating that the Guardian was soon to publish an article about the attacks on pro-vaccine practitioners by those who are advocating for vaccine choice. This is her email to me:
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 12:40:09 PM ESTSubject: Query re: Facebook harassment campaignsHello,
I’m a reporter with the Guardian newspaper, based in San Francisco. I’m working on an article about online harassment of pro-vaccine doctors and health practitioners, and I plan to reference you.In the article, I plan to report on how online harassment campaigns are frequently coordinated in closed Facebook groups such as VaccineChoices – Fact VS Fiction, Conversations & Research. As one example, a Pittsburgh pediatric practice, Kids Plus Pediatrics, asserts that they were subjected to a 6-day harassment campaign that originated in your group and resulted in more than 10,000 abusive comments over a pro-HPV vaccine video they posted in 2017.Do you intend for your Facebook group members to harass pro-vaccine practitioners? Have you ever asked your followers not to harass individuals or practices? Please let me know if you would like to respond by 3pm Pacific today.Sincerely,
Julia Wong, Reporter, the Guardian News & Media
The following day, her article was published in the Guardian, “Anti-vaxx ‘mobs’: Doctors face harassment campaigns on Facebook,” which you can read in full here.
While Ms. Wong did mention my response, I wanted you to see the complete email that I sent back to Ms. Wong for her article:
Dear Ms. Wong,
Thank you for the heads-up. Although I would have liked more time to reply to, my answers won’t change. I have been the personal target of far too many pro-vax, hate campaigns and troll attacks, so I know what it is like to be harassed.
I never suggest or encourage any Facebook group or individual members to engage in social media harassment schemes. I believe such activities are detrimental to our Cause. The lack of civility raises an already emotional debate to very disrespectful levels.
Facebook groups, private or not, have members from all walks of life with various levels of education. Many parents have seen their children harmed by vaccines and are angry at a medical system doesn’t listen to them and treats them unfairly. They lash out from the anonymity of their devices.
As you logically know, it is impossible to control what a Facebook member chooses to do or how they choose to behave. That said, I have on many occasions asked audiences and groups to NOT “rush to judgment” and to NOT personally attack anyone. I have advised metered responses, even while I was under the same types of personal attacks. Vaccination has become a volatile topic and personal, retaliatory words and actions serve no one – on EITHER side.
We do encourage confident, articulate, intelligent and factual responses online or within comment threads. Vaccines do cause harm, and we must provide that counterpoint, even when the pro-vaccine people are less than cordial to us about our studied choice.
Sherri Tenpenny, DO, AOBNMM, ABIHM
Chad Hermann, the CEO and communications director of Kids Plus Pediatrics (KPP) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who, according to the Guardian, is one of the “self-described social media evangelists for pediatricians” actually wrote this about my VaccineInfo Facebook page:
“It seems to me that it would take Facebook about 10 minutes to allow us to ban or block every member of Sherri Tenpenny’s group,” he said. “I have no problem with them wanting to stay in their echo chambers, but this is the digital equivalent of 39,000 people storming into our waiting room and screaming at us and our patients.”
If it weren’s so serious, it would be laughable.
Mainstream, pro-propaganda is screamed at tens of thousands, perhaps even millions, of our patients and parents every day, calling them resistant; difficult; irresponsible; baby-killers. The personal assaults hurled at educated and informed parents who choose to refuse the injection of foreign matter into their children with the illusion that this will somehow improve their health is everywhere, including the halls of Congress.
MILLIONS of people have been affected by the censorship of Amazon, Etsy, Pinterest, YouTube and probably soon, Facebook. Amazon removed vaccine documentaries within an hour of a letter from Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA). Books will probably be banned next, no matter how many references.
Is this America?
From all available evidence, a majority of anti-vaxxers are educated people who send their children to Waldorf schools and have access to both mainstream public health information and to vaccination information that presents a different view. They choose to not believe the mainstream conspiracy propaganda, which is what it really is: No placebo testing. No proof of protection (i.e. get the shot and get sick anyway). Denial that vaccines can cause harm. Health only comes through a needle.