Anti-vax pressure forces SafeTODo website to shut down

Jul 21 2021, 2:04 pm

A website that tried to help Ontarians by listing businesses with strong COVID-19 vaccination policies has shut down because of pressure and harassment from anti-vaxxers.

SafeTODo.ca began earlier this week to highlight businesses that were striving to make customers feel safe.

It compiled lists of local businesses that either has their entire staff vaccinated or require customers to be fully vaccinated before entering.

But on Tuesday, the website’s operator Brandon Mattalo announced it was shutting down after less than a week because anti-vaxxers are targeting the businesses the site is trying to celebrate.

“Whenever I add a new business, there is a group of people (a small minority), who attack those businesses by leaving fake Google reviews, making false bookings at their restaurants, and sending hateful messages to them,” he said on Twitter.

Anti-vaxxers also targeted Mattalo himself. He received multiple hateful messages, including one he reported to the police.

“I don’t see this as ‘defeat.’ I just don’t think that the goal that I initially set out to accomplish can positively be met, without significant risk. I hope everyone will continue to support their local businesses,” he said.

Mattalo’s website received support from some prominent Toronto doctors and COVID-19 data trackers, who viewed it as a temporary ad-hoc alternative to a government vaccine certificate program.

Several health professionals shared their disappointment on Twitter about the site being shut down.

 

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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