Jenny McCarthy Blocked Me on Twitter!

26 May

A fascinating Guest Blog piece here from Dawn Crawford, Communications Manager for the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition on their Twitter activities.

How One Small Nonprofit Irked a MTV Star

It’s amazing how one simple action can result in a landside of meaning.

On May 14, I realized that the organization that I work for, the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition (CCIC), aka ImmunizeCOKids on Twitter, was blocked by Jenny McCarthy, aka JennyfromMTV on Twitter.

Okay, so that’s a little odd. That is the only user I know that blocks CCIC.

Sure, CCIC has put out some tweets about Jenny. She has made herself a major target for the pro-vaccine movement. What is really odd is that the block was in response to only three tweets with her user name in it. In the name of complete transparency, I’ve included the actual tweets:

ImmunizeCOKids: @shuwu – great work – “Open Letter 2 @Oprah” poetic, smart & dead-on post about deal w/ anti-vax @JennyfromMTV (May 14, 2009 – )

ImmunizeCOKids: Poetic, smart and dead-on post about @Oprah signing deal with anti-vax @JennyfromMTV “Open Letter to Oprah” (May 13, 2009 – = 13 RTs of this shortener)

ImmunizeCOKids: Jenny McCarthy is on The Doctors TV show today – very inflammatory. She is on twitter now too @JennyfromMTV (May 6, 2009 – )

And in all fairness, here are the tweets that just included her name and not her Twitter ID:

ImmunizeCOKids: Weigh in! Future of BioPharma: Jenny McCarthy vs Autism and its effects on the public (May 11, 2009 –

ImmunizeCOKids: Why is Oprah Winfrey promoting vaccine skeptic Jenny McCarthy? Slate Magazine – thanks @JeffStierACSH & @bobfinn (May 6, 2009 –

ImmunizeCOKids: Agreed on the fiction of vaccines = autism part. Thanks Babble! “Jenny McCarthy To Get Her Own Talk Show?” – FameCrawler (May 5, 2009 –

Social media is a very important strategy for CCIC’s mission of increasing vaccination rates to keep Colorado’s kids healthy. CCIC engages in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to share our message of confidence in the safety of vaccines. Specifically, we use Twitter to encourage and support the majority of parents who are vaccinating their children, confront misinformation about vaccine safety and share articles from a wide array of sources.

Blocking on Twitter? What’s the Point

As someone who lives and breathes social media (I author three Twitter accounts), the blocking function on Twitter has always perplexed me. Why would you ever want to sever a line of communication in this way?

For those unfamiliar with the function, the block feature on Twitter ensures that you and the blocked user do not follow each other or direct message each other. It doesn’t prevent the blocked user from visiting the user’s profile or writing ‘@ replies’ about them. It just ensures that the user is blissfully ignorant of all the comments the blocked user is continuing to add to Twitterspace. This is from Twitter on their blocking function:

Are you sure you want to block ImmunizeCOKids? Here’s what blocking means:

You will no longer show up in the blocked person’s list of friends.

Your updates won’t show up on the blocked person’s profile page.

The blocked person will not be able to add you as a friend.

For us at CCIC, it is the rich dialogue that makes Twitter so powerful. We receive tweets at least once a week from parents telling us that we are liars and that they staunchly believe that vaccines are dangerous or that vaccines cause autism. We want to keep the dialogue open with all parents. We want to know what exactly is frightening parents and what concerns them about vaccines. It is such a great asset to be connected with concerned parents, have a respectful conversation that educates and empowers parents to make an informed decision about the health of their children.

Moreover, a ‘brand’ like Jenny McCarthy blocking CCIC on Twitter has interesting social media branding implications. It encourages us to assume that she isn’t open to any opposing views. It tells us that contrary to what she says in the media, she doesn’t want a dialogue about this issue. She wants a platform.

David and Goliath

So why are we so excited about being blocked by Jenny? It’s that she cared enough to take the time to block CCIC. It’s that she cared enough about what we are saying to end the conversation.

It’s a lot like David and Goliath. Jenny is a super-human symbol of the anti-vaccine movement (Jenny states that she is ‘anti-toxin’ and not against vaccines- aren’t we splitting hairs?). CCIC is a small but vocal organization in Colorado making sure physicians, nurses and public health providers get the vaccines, resources, and continuing education they need to keep kids healthy. Our total budget amounts to about 1,400 copies of Jenny’s latest book (which not a dime of that budget comes from pharmaceutical companies, btw). CCIC is insignificant in Jenny’s world but important enough to heed a reaction.

Can this open a dialogue?

A good vaccine advocate friend pointed out that this might be an opportunity to have the sides of the great vaccine divide sit down and have an open, real conversation. We think this is an opportunity to come together on the one issue that we can agree on which is protecting the health of children.

So in the end, this is an honest, open invitation to Jenny McCarthy to have a conversation. We both want to do what is right for children; we just have different paths to the same goal. Let’s find a common ground of respect and move forward in protecting children.

Until then, we’ll be here in Colorado protecting children from disease just like we do everyday. Jenny, we hope to hear from you soon. You know where to find us on Twitter.

About the Author: As the Communications Manager for CCIC, Dawn Crawford leads all messaging for the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition (CCIC). CCIC is a state-wide nonprofit that ensures that physicians, nurses and public health departments get the vaccines they need to keep Colorado’s kids healthy. CCIC is very active on the ‘interwebs’ as an advocacy organization promoting the prevention of vaccine preventable diseases. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

13 Responses to “Jenny McCarthy Blocked Me on Twitter!”

  1. lizditz May 26, 2009 at 16:52 #

    Hey, I’m blocked too! In good company.

  2. lisanavi May 26, 2009 at 18:36 #

    I use blocking so that spammers don’t show on the list of ppl that follow me. That is what it is for. It isn’t really for what Jenny apparently intended it to be, but then, your posts that include her handle will show up under her @replies unless she blocks you, which is probably why she did so.

  3. estherar May 26, 2009 at 19:56 #

    None of the biomed mommies – least of all Jenny – want dialogue on this issue. The minute you start asking them probing questions about all the little pieces in their child’s story that don’t fit, they clap their hands over their ears and sing “LALALALA, I can’t hear you”. What they really are looking for is an echo chamber, not dialogue.

  4. Sullivan May 26, 2009 at 20:17 #

    This is rather amusing, and pretty much par for the course.

    First off-as a celebrity, Jenny McCarthy has a gazillion followers. She could easily ignore ImmunizeCoKids along with all her other fans. A few more would be in the noise. She isn’t really much of a twitter user based on the sparse number of tweets.

    But, instead, she makes a point of blocking ImmunizeCoKids.

    This does fit with the standard methods used by her own organization–pretend that there is no debate amongst parents. Quash discussion, ban commenters from blogs. And, when they can’t ban commenters, claim that anyone making comments is obviously a “pharma shill” and not actually a parent.

    I am not surprised.

  5. Alyson Bradley AsPlanet May 26, 2009 at 22:03 #

    I will happily add some messages on your behalf of ImmunizeCoKids, maybe just add your link.

    “Help save children : Jenny McCarthy Blocked Me on Twitter!

  6. hammiesays May 26, 2009 at 23:13 #

    Well at least she didn’t send you a sample of her poo!

    It seems consistent with the other bio-med practitioners who advertise. They are unafraid to make wild generalisations about both the causes and the supposed cures for autism – but very thin on data.

    And yet I have a suitcase of data of how behavioural analyis has incrementally improved my son and daughters ability to communicate and self manage, but I would never claim that it was ALL about ABA. There are so many other factors in play.


  7. roguemedic May 27, 2009 at 20:59 #

    I do not use Twitter, so I would not be blocked on Twitter, but I do comment on vaccines. My post, linking to your post, is The Honesty of Jenny Killer McCarthy.

    Keep up the good work.

  8. Arriella September 12, 2009 at 14:58 #

    Honestly, your twitter behaviour was a pretty dick move, and I would block you for it if you kept tweeting my my @-reply timeline like that. You’re like one mm away from being a pure twitter spammer.

    I don’t think Jenny and the anti-vaccine people have a leg to stand on, but you’re still behaving rather rudely.

  9. Sullivan September 12, 2009 at 15:38 #


    Do you realize that your comment crossed a line that CCIC never has (or, I am sure, will)? But, in all honesty, I don’t even know what your complaint is.

    Here is ImmunizeCoKids’ twitter stream:

    I don’t see them

    The examples in the above post aren’t spam either.

  10. leslie October 15, 2010 at 11:39 #

    Jenny McCarthy knows her son was never autistic. She, and her money hungry publishers and agent are terrifed of the truth about her son not being really autistic. I guess when money is at stake, these people will do all they can to avoid reality. Poor Jenny. If only she had the class and guts to admit her son had infantile seizures, regressed, got treated with seizure meds and slowly recovered. Never autism. Not autism. Yet, here she is again with her stupid publishers and a few let’s get some fame real quick quacks her support her. Disgusting.


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