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If you catch your old college roommate sharing COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on Facebook, the odds are that these falsehoods are coming from one of twelve people.
That’s right. Just twelve individuals.
A new report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate and Anti-Vax Watch found that up to 65 percent of “anti-vaccine content” on Facebook and Twitter originated from twelve influencers within the anti-vaxxer movement.
The report focused on these twelve accounts after an analysis of content that was shared and posted on Facebook and Twitter 812,000 times between Feb. 1 and March 16.
On Facebook alone, the content from these individuals, which the reports dubs as the “Disinformation Dozen,” accounts for 73 percent of all anti-vaxxer content posted or shared on the platform in the last two months.
The largest anti-vaxxer influencer on social media, according to the report, is Joseph Mercola. Mercola is an alternative medicine promoter who runs a multimillion dollar online business selling treatments and dietary supplements. The FDA recently sent Mercola a warning over his sham treatments for COVID-19.
Another major culprit is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Kennedy, the nephew of John F. Kennedy, is perhaps one of the most high profile influencers in the anti-vaxxer community. Last month, Instagram banned him from the platform for violating the site’s coronavirus vaccine misinformation policy.
However, despite calls to deplatform him from Twitter and Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, Kennedy’s accounts remain on those social media services.
The other social media users in the “Disinformation Dozen” include Ty and Charlene Bollinger, Sherri Tenpenny, Rizza Islam, Rashid Buttar, Erin Elizabeth, Sayer Ji, Kelly Brogan, Christiane Northrup, Ben Tapper, and Kevin Jenkins.
While Facebook and Twitter have both committed to banning anti-vaccine content and the users who spread disinformation about vaccines, a majority of these twelve users have active accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. According to the report, all of them have an active account on at least one of these platforms.
Health misinformation was a huge problem in 2020 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, more than 59 million people were reached on social media platforms at the end of last year by the 425 anti-vaxxer accounts which the organization tracks.
And, as the pandemic continues, the problem has not gone away. In fact, as coronavirus vaccines have begun to roll out over these past few months, anti-vaccination content has continued to surge.
For example, a recent report from Media Matters For America found that beyond the 12 major influencers mentioned in this article, “micro-influencers” are having a moment on Instagram. Smaller accounts pushing misinformation are growing a following, violating Instagram’s vaccine misinformation policies, and operating undetected on the platform.
ที่มา : Mashable