Tiffany Dover, a nurse in Tennessee, got the COVID vaccine in December 2020. Shortly after, she fainted. These things happen — except in Dover’s case, it happened on a Facebook livestream, at a moment in time when conspiracy theories about vaccines (among many other things) were spreading like wildfire. Suddenly, Dover found herself the object of unwanted attention. Scary attention. And a lot of it. Brandy Zadrozny has the story:

Within 24 hours, Tiffany, or as she was being referred to at the time, “Tennessee nurse,” was trending on every social media platform. That night, she was featured on the conspiracy theory internet show Infowars. New videos about Tiffany were being posted to YouTube every 19 minutes, according to Paola Pascual-Ferrá, an associate professor of communication at Baltimore’s Loyola University Maryland, who was tracking the spread in real time. And Tiffany was going global: Most of the videos and posts about her were coming from outside the U.S., Pascual-Ferrá said. 

The posts weren’t just replays of Tiffany’s fall. The conspiracy theories were evolving quickly with what seemed like the whole world contributing to an investigation where the conclusion had already been determined. For the thousands of people posting about Tiffany, she didn’t just faint. She was dead. And a fake death certificate started making the rounds. 

Meanwhile, the phone in CHI Memorial’s Covid unit rang off the hook. News outlets and conspiracy theorists alike, they all wanted to talk to Tiffany. 

“Imagine being in high-stress situations, emotions are already high, and then the phone never stops ringing?” Tiffany says. “It’s enough to make you crazy.”