By Erin K. Costello
After watching a video ZDoggMD posted to Facebook regarding the Texas nurse who was just fired for violating HIPAA, and after reading many of the comments, I have decided to write a blog piece on the harassment I have personally experienced and witnessed by the anti-vaccination community. I have not experienced any hateful behavior that other pro-vaccinationists have also experienced. I don’t believe anything in my story is unique. Regardless, these vile actions deserve to be brought to light.
I help admin the pro-vaccine/anti-pseudoscience Facebook group called The Science Juice, this website, and the Facebook pages What’s the Harm?, and NO MAM. I am also an admin on the pro-science Facebook page Soldiers Of Science, though I have been a horribly absent admin and do not deserve any credit for this awesome page.
Almost a year ago, I got a little pissed about seeing AV (anti-vax) Facebook posts bragging about having handed out those “Educate before you vaccinate” business cards in place of Halloween candy to trick or treaters. If you want to try to spread your crazy to adults, that’s one thing. But to try and convert kids who are trusting you to avoid answering the door, give them candy, or fucking raisins, is nothing short of asshole cult-like behavior (raisins just makes you an asshole). So, I decided to share an idea I had had about a week earlier. I posted a comment on the public Facebook page, Banned from Birth Pages, that had a thread discussing this very issue. In my comment I suggested that everyone who was as pissed as I am about these cards, regardless of where you are finding them, should just email the website that’s giving them away for free, order some of these free cards, then when they come in the mail just throw them in the garbage like I had been doing. I also scanned the cards and altered them, or rather corrected them as seen in the image. This earned me my first ever dedication thread in the Facebook group Stop Mandatory Vaccination, or StopMV for short. Only the image of what I had done to the cards was posted about by StopMV members though. The next day I had another package of cards come in the mail. So like usual, I tossed them in the garbage. This time, though, I took a picture of them sitting in the garbage, then posted the picture to my personal profile page on Facebook. I didn’t send the pic to anyone, tag anyone, or contact anyone. Still though, my picture caught the attention of Avers. My picture earned me almost 50 hateful Facebook message requests (my fiance even received a few of these love letters as well), about a dozen threads devoted to me in StopMV over about 4 days, and 2 threads in other groups. On these StopMV threads I was doxed, (wrong phone number, correct address but I had sold my house and was closing in little over a month), had my life threatened, my well being threatened, and had a mob mentality form of members encouraging others to harass, stalk, and report me for no reason. None of this bothered me too much until I seen a sub thread of one member asking the group which members lived near me. That one got to me a little. That was when I reported the threatening posts, specifically the one calling for my brain matter to be splattered on the pavement after being run over (I still have the screen shots!). This was all in the first week of November 2017.
Since then, I’ve have been doxed several times, though I have not recorded my new address anywhere yet so they can’t find it, and they still can’t find my phone number. Usually they’ll find and post a few emails, mostly ones I barely use, old home addresses, and my family members’ names. I have my Facebook profile locked down to the public now so at least I am not making this easy for them. I have had a lot of threads devoted to me in these groups, though the most have shown up in StopMV and MAM’s group. I’ve also often had my, I guess you’d call them known associates, listed with me, or I’d be listed with them. I have made several AV “troll/shill lists.” In these instances its mostly been just the usual type of comments and info sharing though, nothing scary. Although, I did have one girl threaten that she’s “coming for” myself and another PV advocate, but it’s been about 9 months now so she either became lost, died from a vaccine preventable disease, or was full of shit.
Most recently, just yesterday in fact, Mark Ethan posted a screen shot of my profile and claimed to have “exposed” me as a PV troll. The weird thing was that the picure he posted of my profile had a profile picture of me that I hadn’t used in months. He must have taken this screen shot months ago and kept it this whole time for future use. He also included links to two of my profiles (both of them carry my name, one was an old profile), and then a link to a third profile of some woman I have never seen or heard of before. I even let him know in a post to my page, and in messenger, how the third profile link was not me. Naturally, that only made things worse. Instead of spending 2 minutes investigating to see it obviously wasn’t me, he and his conspiracy theorist mind assumed I was lying, and that the third profile must be my REAL name. I was then called all kinds of names by Mark and his ilk, including “worse than HRC’s bowel movement.” I kind of want that printed on a t-shirt saying that now though. His friends tried to report my profile over and over but Facebook wouldn’t let them. I’m guessing they tried reporting it as fake, and since I have already had to show Facebook my ID on each account, they weren’t able to report for that reason. That didn’t dawn on them though! They assumed I was a hacker and “part of Facebook’s inner circle.” The post is public so anyone can go view this right now.
These people, many of them, are vile, vindictive, mean people with nothing better to do with their lives. Myself and other admin have even had their “leaders” make posts against us and encourage members to seek us out. Larry Cook and Kate Tietje aka MAM (Modern Alternative Mama), have both done this several times. Whether it’s been us, or any one on Facebook who expressed support of vaccinations, the members of these groups seek individuals out and attack them on-line. They will also go after grieving parents, parents of sick children, and medical personnel. They often take screen shots of the things they have said to harass these individuals just so they can post the images in their groups and show off their harassment. This then incites more members to join in, which then often leads to a twisted type of “up the ante” game to begin, where members will compete to see who can post the most angry, vicious, and punishing comment to the latest victim being featured. Many of these groups do not enforce redaction rules with screen shots, and StopMV is the worst one we have seen in this regards. While in these groups myself and other admins have seen this harassment play out in real time. One woman ended up deleting her Facebook account, and another was so upset she had made comments to us (we reached out to her once we had seen what was going on) in messenger suggesting she wanted to harm herself, causing one of our admins to stay on-line messaging with her for hours until she was feeling better. Because of this we routinely go into these groups, look for un-redacted screen shots shaming unsuspecting people, take screen shots of these posts, and reach out by sending the screen shots along with an explanation to those who are exposed and could potentially become a target. We also rat out AV nurses, AV parents who scheme to lie to the other parent regarding vaccinations (they even buy little round band-aids to fool the other parent), and AV parents for other reasons I won’t mention to avoid tipping them off. Basically when they admit to a deception that places, or risks placing, their kids or the public in harm, we will possibly expose their actions to necessary parties.
Out of everything I have experienced though, the worst for me is when I see them go after grieving parents or parents posting about their sick children, and do so with this insane hatred. Nothing they’ve done to me has caused me as much grief and disgust as seeing the horrific comments AVers have left, and still leave, for these parents who are going through one of the worst times in their lives. Only the very worst of humanity wishes to shame, punish, and hurt grieving or scared parents in such a way. I’m sure there are plenty of asshole pro-vaccinationists as well. However, the predatory AV community is certainly no victim in this war.