Pregnancy App Censoring COVID Vaccine Discussions

December 23rd, 2021 5:53 PM

A popular pregnancy app is censoring “vaccine misinformation,” according to The Washington Post.

Pregnancy apps have faced controversy in the past for allowing content that questions the efficacy and necessity of childhood vaccinations. For the most part, the content was posted freely on platforms for discussion between expectant mothers. This changed after the release of the COVID vaccine and updated CDC guidelines.

“I searched in the group discussions for vaccines, and it popped up — some moms having discussions about not vaccinating your children, or getting delayed vaccines,” Mayshaya Engel, who gave birth to a daughter in August, said, referring to discussions skeptical of general vaccine. 

Now, one pregnancy app said it will remove content that questions or criticizes the COVID-19 vaccine. No further discussion will be allowed.

What to Expect’s “Pregnancy & Baby Tracker,” a pregnancy app that has 2 million users a month, began banning “conspiracy theorists” last month.

“By late November, a review of its forums turned up far fewer posts casting doubt on vaccines’ safety and more signs of posts and threads that had been taken down,” The Post reported.

“It changed,” Engel said. She added that she noticed more content encouraging expectant mothers to get vaccinated. “It was like [the app was] kind of, like, more ‘for it’ — for pregnant moms getting vaccinated.”

The app “gradually redefined how we moderate posts about vaccines,” Christine Mattheis, the platform’s vice president and editorial director, wrote in an email to The Post, as “vaccine misinformation has increased in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic."

One future mom said she felt the anti-COVID vaccination discussions originally taking place within the app were forced, and seemed to be glad that the platform had taken steps to root out “misinformation.”

“What really pissed me off and alarmed me was people trading advice on how to get around vaccine mandates” she said. She gave a specific example: “Somebody who was pregnant but had other children was asking other moms for advice on how to forge vaccine documents for their kid’s school.”

Mattheis said the platform made the policy change after the CDC recommended that pregnant women get the COVID vaccine.

“We drew the hardest line when the CDC began explicitly recommending that pregnant people get vaccinated, and released a lot of data showing that not getting vaccinated is far more dangerous than the shot itself,” she said.