Doximity — the 'LinkedIn for doctors' — riddled with COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

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Doximity, a health IT and telehealth networking platform often referred to as "LinkedIn for doctors," is getting filled with COVID-19 misinformation and anti-vaccine content posted from physician members, CNBC reported Aug. 6. 

Nine details: 

1. Doximity is home to 1.8 million members, including 80 percent of U.S. physicians. The platform lets users connect, share research and stay informed on industry trends. 

2. Dr. Paul Malarik, a retired psychiatrist who helps administer COVID-19 vaccines at pop-up clinics in California, told the network that he sees anti-vaccine comments from physicians on Doximity's platform. 

"You rarely get to the level of microchips in vaccines, but a lot of this stuff is pretty close to it," he said. "They’re actively working against us." 

3. Doximity's membership is restricted to practicing U.S. healthcare professionals. To verify members, the company requires photo identification of a medical license, hospital badge, emails from medical institutions and a questionnaire, among other methods. 

4. Dr. Malarik said he viewed several comments posted by people with credentials "MD" or "DO," and in the posts, the users refer to the vaccines as experimental, unproven or deadly and occasionally write "Fauxi" when referring to Anthony Fauci, MD, the White House chief medical adviser. 

5. CNBC cited dozens of screenshots shared with it by other physicians sharing experiences consistent with Dr. Malarik's. These show articles about vaccines or masks with hundreds of comments, many that are factually incorrect or based on conspiracy theories, according to the report. 

6. Doximity doesn't let users post stories. Instead, it shares articles from mainstream news outlets and medical science publications, which are then customized based on the user's area of medical expertise and other personal details. 

7. Users are allowed to comment on news articles, which is where the misinformation can occur. For example, a recent article on mask mandates for kids received comments from some physicians who oppose the COVID-19 vaccines. According to the report: "A general surgeon commented that 'masking children is absolutely ridiculous and a form of child abuse.' Another said that '50 years of data accumulated by the CDC and [World Health Organization] demonstrated those masks to have made no difference. None.'" 

8. Doximity's rules prohibit misinformation, and it lists 11 things in its guidelines that can lead to content being removed, including "spreading false or misleading information." In a statement to CNBC, the company said it strictly prohibits posts of medical misinformation. 

"Like most virtual communities, we have community guidelines in place to ensure that Doximity remains a safe and respectful environment,” the company said. “We employ a rigorous clinical review process, staffed by physicians, to evaluate member comments that are flagged as being potential misinformation." 

9. Doximity held its initial public offering in June and is now valued at more than $10 billion, according to the report. CNBC's report comes after the Federation of State Medical Board's warning July 29 that physicians who post COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on social media could be at risk of losing their medical licenses.

 

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