An American paediatrician who tried to use Tic Toc to educate young people on vaccinations has received hundreds of death threats. But it won’t stop her from doing more vaccination education videos.
Dr Nicole Baldwin is a paediatrician with three years of paediatric residency and 13 years of clinical practice experience. Worried about the rise of vaccination misinformation among young people, she jumped onto Tic Toc and created a viral video of vaccination facts.
— Dr. Nicole Baldwin (@NicoleB_MD) 11 January 2020
When she says the vaccination education video “struck a nerve” she’s totally underplaying what happened. Dr Baldwin was subjected to a large coordinated attack.
“It has taken a team working around the clock to ban over 5000 attackers from my Facebook page alone. Fraudulent reviews have been posted on multiple rating sites, most notably Google and Yelp. All reviews have been reported and are under investigation,” the doctor wrote on Facebook.
Attackers have been calling my office and harassing my staff as well as threatening my practice. These calls are under investigation by the police.
Opinions dressed as facts
Social media is full of un-checked stories and can send you down a misinformation rabbit hole. It’s something Dr Baldwin has seen in patients coming to her practice.
Dr Baldwin told The Enquirer she tried Tic Toc in an attempt to reach younger adults and teens. She wanted to present the scientifically proven and tested facts.
“Obviously, as a paediatrician, I know that vaccines are safe. And I think there’s a lot of misconception out there about them,” Dr Baldwin told The Enquirer. “I know TikTok has this huge adolescent population as well as some younger adults, so my hope was to spread, you know, that vaccines are safe — spread that message to a different audience.”
Doctor won’t stop vaccination education
The pile-on was not what the doctor ordered. But it’s not going to stop her attempting to put some science into social media.
Drowning under the weight of comments, the doctor’s Facebook moderators have started to fight back, banning and removing comments and explaining why they won’t get airtime.
“Dr. Nicole Baldwin Editor #978002 here, repeating what another participant said in a comment elsewhere in the thread, because it’s an answer to the screeching of “SHOW ME THE SCIENCE.”
There’s no point in answering any of your questions when you’ve never heard any of the answers in the previous decade I’ve been doing this advocacy work.
Dr. Baldwin could literally show you warehouses full of the science (because that’s how much there is) that shows that vaccines are safe and save lives, and none of you, not one, would accept a single research study. Not one.
There’s a reason why there’s no point in engaging with any of you.”
The importance of social media etiquette
Dr Baldwin has also used the experience to start a conversation on the negative effects of social media and how parents can show kids the right way to behave.
Social media is a leading cause of anxiety in teenagers. While teens can use social media to connect and create friendships, they also confront cyberbullying, trolls and toxic comparisons.
“We need to teach our kids and LEAD BY EXAMPLE that attacking someone on social media because their opinion is different than our own is NOT OK.”
Asked whether the death threats and barrage of abuse will make her reconsider her idea to educate people on vaccinations via social media, Dr Baldwin told the Enquirer: “There will be more TikToks to come”.