Dealing with Our Differences
Have you ever realized that things are just not going in the direction that you had hoped they would? What do you do then? Perhaps it’s best to take a moment to pause and hit reset!
Admittedly, the intent of each of these forums is to post content regarding the benefits of vaccination to a diverse audience. While we speak out in favor of vaccines, we pride ourselves on maintaining a vaccine forum that allows everyone (no matter whether they agree with our position or not) the opportunity to comment and engage in the conversation. We believe this open dialogue is essential to stimulate thought provoking discussions, and we hope that it helps contribute to a community where people of all interests and backgrounds can benefit from one another’s education, experiences and perspectives.
It should come as no surprise that the majority of our support comes from doctors, nurses, scientists, public health workers and even victims of vaccine preventable diseases. However,
we recognize that people who remain undecided about vaccines also participate on our sites to gain a different perspective or seek out answers to their questions. Then there are even those people who visit the site to instill fear, start controversy and inject doubt. While vaccine refusers are welcomed as a way to present the sound scientific evidence that has proven vaccines to be safe and effective, we understand why some supporters may not appreciate the fact that they are allowed to post unsubstantiated negative comments about vaccines. It is no secret that vaccine advocates are not granted similar courtesies and are blocked from posting information on sites that speak out in opposition to vaccines. In contrast, when pro-vaccine supporters attempt to make a comment on anti-vaccine sites, their comments are almost immediately removed and the person commenting is then blocked from further participation.
While we understand how frustrating this is to loyal vaccine advocates, we also understand why these other sites operate in this manner. In a nutshell, it is much easier for them to administer a page where everyone agrees. In fact, by completely controling who is allowed to comment, there is very little need for any moderation at all. People either show their support or they are not allowed to participate. While we can not change the way in which these anti-vaccine pages choose to operate, what we can do is continue to offer something different for those who choose to participate on our sites.
From their inception, the Shot of Prevention blog and the Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page have always allowed open conversations and participants are consistently encouraged to present scientific evidence that supports their beliefs. Admittedly, this type of forum can require a great deal of moderation, and every once in a while, a bit of reflection and correction.
In light of this past weekend’s extensive comments on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page, we realized that it may be time, once again,to pause and reset. This weekend illustrated how quickly conversations can escalate into controversy, and how emotions can sometimes interfere with rational dialogue. In a few instances, insults began to replace evidence, and neither clarity nor value was added to the discussion in the end.
Sadly, the problem quickly extended beyond our site and eventually we were alerted to threats of violence and injury against our most active vaccine supporters. In fact, the information was documented in a Youtube video in which several people who had recently commented on our sites went on to threaten our supporters by name on another (anti-vaccine) Facebook page.
It is one thing to joke around and find humor in our differences. However, it is completely inappropriate and unacceptable to threaten violence to specific people who happen to voluntarily speak out in support of vaccines on a public forum such as Vaccinate Your Baby. While we will continue to allow differences of opinion on our sites, we must insist that everyone remain respectful of one another and refrain from vulgarities, personal attacks and of course, threats. Additionally, those people who we have witnessed launching threats will no longer be granted permissions on our sites. Their comments are disgraceful and we are saddened that they feel that their immature behavior was in any way justifiable.
We want to once again thank our supporters for their continued patience and understanding as we work to resolve this most disappointing situation. We can only hope that this will strengthen our resolve to make Shot of Prevention and Vaccinate Your Baby a welcoming community where individuals with questions about vaccines can engage in a fruitful dialogue.