Will they come after personal webpages?
Will they ban the books that have already been written?
Will they remove our ability to call each other from our home phones, disable our cell phones so we can text each other, or remove emails access from our personal computers?
Pinterest was never one of my favorite websites to visit. But with readers all over the world using all manner of social media platforms including Pinterest, I created an account for Age of Autism there several years ago. Once in a while, when I’d remember to, I’d pin something under our Great Reads, Good Movies, or Friends of AofA boards. A new book to check out, a documentary of interest, or an infographic that was making the rounds on other people’s advocacy pages were what I’d typically pin. Never more than an afterthought though, I’d spend more time adding links and reading material to our AofA Facebook fan page. With a much larger audience, FB was the place to be.
Late last year, I heard that Pinterest was shutting down individual and advocacy groups’ accounts for pinning misinformation about the US’ liability-free vaccines. I knew that it was just a matter of time that AofA would make that same hit list. In mid-December, I received an email from Pinterest that information I’d pinned on our boards long ago were in violation of one of their policies.
When that happened, I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t sad about it either. Visually unappealing to me, I never cared much for Pinterest’s layout and preferred to spend my time on other social media platforms. I’d honestly forgotten about people’s pages being pulled off of Pinterest’s until a dear friend mentioned it to me on Thursday evening. Friday morning, articles were being circulating about those recent unpinnings. I tried to log on to see if we were still being banned from using Pinterest.
We lost a platform, but we have other places we can share our stories. We’ll continue to do that that for as long as we can.
We’re safe for now elsewhere on the web. But it’s not surprising that some people, like Congressman Schiff, would rather we keep quiet wherever we log in. To write such a letter, and for it to get as much attention as it did, tells me that the industry, its supporters, and its benefactors are getting more and more nervous. They’re not worried about failing vaccines or corporate espionage though; they’re scared of informed moms and dads!
I can see why Schiff sent the letter, but if he’s going to send a stern warning to Facebook and Google, where’s his letter to Reddit? Another online social platform, Reddit gets millions of visitors like Pinterest, Google and FB do. Schiff wants the industry’s vaccine information to be better guarded! But just the week before his letter was sent, the mainstream media went absolutely gaga over a teenager who consulted Reddit users, not a doctor, for medical advice. I guess because it was a pro-vaccine question, and one that made an “anti-vaccine” mom out to look like the bad guy, it’s okay to keep Reddit up and running. Oddly, that mundane Man Gets Vaccines story made front-page news. The story fed into the media’s orchestrated vaccine frenzy and took over as many headlines as possible. In multiple newspaper sections —U.S., World, Local, Science, Health, and on numerous news station channels around the globe, that teen’s story went viral.
Personally, I didn’t think that story was newsworthy at all. A legal adult opts for liability-free vaccines? So what. That wasn’t and still isn’t newsworthy in my eyes. But the 18-year old’s private healthcare decision that was overly broadcasted and shared around the world just so happened to occur during intense “legislative measles” campaigns here in the US. I guess when you’re feeding the industry versus going up against it, you’re allowed to stay and play for as long as they want your sound bite to last.
Censorship is nothing new, but so many more people and groups are working overtime now to remove our already-established rights. Those include freedom of speech and, in some states, vaccine choice. Once a private matter, vaccination has become open season not just in the news, but just about everywhere. The overreaching of the government and the undermining of its people has gotten more than just a little ridiculous lately. In fact, the Food Drug Administration is trying to get in on things, too. Can they step in? Do they have the authority to take away American citizens’ medical rights? I don’t know. I do know that they, and our representatives, need to hear from us right away and before those hearings start on Wednesday.
In 2013 when I signed on to Pinterest, a startup that had seemingly nothing to do with medicine or the vaccine industry, I saw it as a tool to connect with other like-minded parents. As had happened on other social media platforms I’d been using, I quickly did find other people and was encouraged by them to check out their boards and pins. Even though I barely visited the site, I’d get frequent emails that so-and-so and such-and-such began to follow us. Other alerts reported that our boards were beginning to be repinned. We didn’t get too many private messages, but the message we did get were positive ones. My goal on Pinterest was to create another safe place for our many readers, and I got to do just that. Our boards and page may be gone there, but we’re here to stay.
Social media platforms and industry mouthpieces may get away with shutting us down, but it’ll take lots more to shut us up completely. If Pinterest, Google, or Facebook think we’d be lost without them, we won’t be. We’ll rise up like we’ve had to in the past. You can count on us to do that whenever our rights, and yours, are being threatened.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.