A social media post by Ohio pediatrician Dr. Nicole Baldwin prompted a barrage of hateful responses when the doctor used the platform TikTok to share a video describing the benefits of vaccines. The viral video has so far racked up over 1.4 million views and made Baldwin and her staff targets online.
In the playful video, Baldwin emphasizes that vaccines do not cause autism. Despite that, a recent poll found that 46% of Americans are still unsure about the debunked theory. A Gallup poll from 2019 reports that 16% of parents with children under the age of 18 believe vaccines flat out cause more harm than good.
"We know that vaccines don't cause autism, and it's important for that message to get out there," she said to CBS News' Dr. Jon LaPook.
Baldwin created the video because she was concerned about the impact of misleading anti-vaccine posts flooding social media.
"I have been the subject of a tsunami of negative comments on all of my social media," said Baldwin, adding that she has received fraudulent reviews.
One online user labeled her "Public Enemy #1" while another commented that the pediatrician should "stop killing our kids with vaccines."
Renee Diresta, a technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, confirmed that anti-vaccine content has negative impacts on public health. She shared concern over social platforms' effort in safeguarding those.
"What platforms have to be thinking about is, what happens when the cost of physicians putting out statements to counter misinformation is that they themselves become the subject of harassment campaigns, of reputation-harming campaigns, of misinformation campaigns?"
Congress has put pressure on social media companies in recent months for failure to stop the spread of misinformation.
TikTok released a statement in their defense, "We remove misinformation that could cause harm to an individual's health or wider public safety."
As for Dr. Baldwin, she said she is standing by her message.