RACGP calls for Facebook crackdown on anti-vaxxers

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has called on Meta (the parent company of Facebook) to crack down on anti-vaxxers. Stock photo.

By TILEAH DOBSON

When someone goes to work to do their job, the last thing they expect is death threats. Unfortunately for one GP on the Gold Coast, that is exactly what he received.

Dr Wilson Chin of Pacific Pines Medico has been subjected to harassment, abuse and death threats from anti-vaxxers, following an incident last week which saw two children faint in the observation area after being vaccinated against Covid-19.

A “personal eyewitness account” posted on a community Facebook page claimed the girls had suffered “violent convulsions” and died in the waiting room – both of which are false.

Other Facebook users posted false information describing the girls as “unresponsive when ambos got there”, encouraging others to share the ‘news’ everywhere.

With the medical practice subjected to vile threats by phone and social media, promising to “get” staff after work or set dogs on them, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has called on Meta (the parent company of Facebook) to crack down on anti-vaxxers.

“A GP receiving death threats simply for doing his job trying to keep his community safe is completely unacceptable and I won’t stand for it,” said RACGP President Dr Karen Price, who called for immediate action by Meta.

“Dr Chin had to stay at a friend’s place because he was so concerned for his safety and there have been sleepless nights for fellow GPs, the practice manager and the other members of the practice team at Pacific Pines Medico.

“Meta … has a real opportunity here to walk the walk and back up their rhetoric by removing anti-vaxxers from the platform and making a concerted effort to counter anti-vaxxer misinformation and threats, including in private Facebook groups,” she said.

Anti-vaccine sentiments have been shared across the country, with many claiming vaccines are “dangerous” or “a way for the government to control us”. Photo: Jowaninpensans/ Wikimedia Commons, published under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0.

A disturbing video – which the Sentinel has chosen not to publish – has since surfaced online praising the work of trolls and urging them to continue to spread misinformation. The author of the video called for anti-vaxxers to keep up the pressure, saying that the jabs “are coming for our kids”.

Comments on the video continue the threats, with one person saying Dr Chin will be “crying when the noose goes around his neck” and another saying, “no sympathy for that money-hungry murderer”.

Dr Price has sworn to fight for GPs and other healthcare workers who find themselves subjected to abuse and threats from anti-vaxxers.

“I will not stand for this. GPs, practice managers, nurses, receptionists and administrative workers are giving their all and deserve nothing but praise and admiration,” Dr Price said.

“Since this matter is being dealt with by law enforcement it is not my place to comment on what happens next, however I certainly hope this sends a strong message to other anti-vaxxers to back off and leave hardworking GPs and general practice teams alone.

“They are the unheralded heroes of the vaccine rollout working tirelessly to keep people safe from harm and they don’t deserve this. Everyone deserves a safe workplace and none more so than GPs giving their all during a global pandemic.”

Journalists also threatened

However, it isn’t just GP’s being subjected to threats and harassment. Journalists across the country and abroad have received threats from anti-vaxxers.

Last year, the BBC was forced to tighten security after anti-vaxxers sent death threats to staff. The personal details of journalists were exchanged on social media apps by opponents of lockdowns and Covid vaccines, along with calls for the lynching of journalists.

Late last year, Sydney journalist Kate McClymont was sent a missive directing her to cease publishing government health orders. The letter claimed Covid vaccines and public health orders were violations “against humanity in gross contravention of every law, and treaty ratified since World War 2”.

Journalists have also received threats and harassment from volatile groups for doing nothing more than their job. Photo: Kate McClymont/Twitter.

In a recent statement, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) said journalists should be able to do their work without facing assault from protesters and police.

The MEAA issued the statement after journalists were assaulted by protesters, capsicum sprayed by police and detained while covering anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne.

“Journalists are neutral observers, simply doing a job,” the MEAA Media section’s federal vice-president Karen Percy said. “An attack on one journalist, is an attack on us all.

“Police and protesters must accept that the media provides an essential service, particularly during the pandemic, in keeping our community informed.”

Tileah Dobson is the news and queer editor of the Sydney Sentinel.

For further news, features, reviews, interviews, opinion, podcasts and more, visit https://sydneysentinel.com.au. You can also like/follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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