Covid vaccine: Social media urged to remove these 12 anti-vaxxers dubbed as ‘Disinformation Dozen’ | World News - Hindustan Times
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Covid vaccine: Social media urged to remove these 12 anti-vaxxers dubbed as ‘Disinformation Dozen’

By | Edited by Kunal Gaurav, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mar 27, 2021 05:23 PM IST

US lawmaker Mike Doyle challenged Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai to remove the accounts of 12 leading influential creators of digital anti-vaccine content.

US House lawmakers on Thursday grilled top executives of Facebook, Twitter, and Google for allowing disinformation and harmful content on their social media platforms. Representative Mike Doyle, a Democrat, challenged Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai to remove the accounts of 12 leading influential creators of digital anti-vaccine content.

A recently published a report said that the 12 anti-vaxxers “play leading roles in spreading digital misinformation”.(Pixabay)
A recently published a report said that the 12 anti-vaxxers “play leading roles in spreading digital misinformation”.(Pixabay)

The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a not-for-profit NGO that seeks to disrupt the architecture of online hate and misinformation, recently published a report on 12 anti-vaxxers “who play leading roles in spreading digital misinformation” about vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). According to the report, the majority of them remain on major social media platforms despite repeated violations of their terms of service.

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After analysing a sample of anti-vaccine content that was shared on Facebook and Twitter, the study found that 65% of the content could be traced to those 12 individuals, dubbed as “the Disinformation Dozen”. The report called on social media firms to follow their repeated promises with concrete action, adding that “updated policies and statements hold little value unless they are strongly and consistently enforced.”

Here’s the list of 12 anti-vaxxers identified in the report:

Joseph Mercola: The report claims that Mercola peddles dietary supplements and false cures as alternatives to vaccines. Mercola’s social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram remain active and his combined personal social media accounts have around 3.6 million followers.

Robert F Kennedy Jr: The long-standing anti-vaxxer and his Children’s Health Defense (CHD) hosts a range of anti-vaccine articles. Kennedy’s personal Instagram account was banned on February 8, but his Facebook page remains active, as does the CHD’s Instagram page.

Ty and Charlene Bollinger: The anti-vax entrepreneur duo has a network of accounts that market books and DVDs about vaccines, cancer and Covid-19. The Bollingers have promoted the conspiracy theory that Bill Gates plans to inject everyone with microchips as part of a vaccination program.

Sherri Tenpenny: The osteopath physician is accused of spreading anti-vaccine sentiment and false claims about the safety and efficacy of masks. While Facebook has removed her account, Twitter and Instagram have not de-platformed her yet.

Rizza Islam: He promoted the false conspiracy theory that Covid-19 vaccines make women infertile in a tweet last June. Rizza Islam’s anti-vaccine posts aim to spread vaccine hesitancy amongst African Americans, the report said. Facebook removed Rizza Islam’s Facebook Page in February, but he continues to post anti-vaccine messages from his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Rashid Buttar: The osteopath physician and conspiracy theorist is known for videos posted on his YouTube channel. In a Facebook post, Buttar claimed that Covid vaccines cause infertility. His Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts are active.

Erin Elizabeth: Mercola’s partner runs a prominent ‘alternative health’ website with affiliated newsletter and social media accounts. In an Instagram post, she claimed that vaccines are part of a medical industry plan to create “a chronically-ill population”.

Sayer Ji: He runs a popular alternative health website, GreenMedInfo.com, and affiliated social media accounts that promote pseudoscience and anti-vaccine misinformation. Recently, he shared claims on his Facebook account that the Pfizer vaccine has killed more people than Covid. GreenMedInfo accounts on Twitter and Instagram have been removed but is still available on Facebook.

Kelly Brogan: Brogan, Sayer Ji’s partner, claims to practice “holistic psychiatry” and sells a range of books and courses from her website. Last year, she posted messages on Instagram encouraging users not to wear masks.

Christiane Northrup: Northrup is an obstetrics and gynaecology physician who has embraced alternative medicine and anti-vaccine conspiracies. Northrup shared a link to Google Doc on Facebook that recommends HCQ and Ivermectin among several substances as cures for Covid-19. She also claimed that vaccines cause an 800% increase in chronic illness. Her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts are active.

Ben Tapper: A chiropractor with a growing following on social media, Tapper has routinely posted disinformation on coronavirus and spoken out against wearing a mask.

Kevin Jenkins: The anti-vaccine activist has appeared at public events with Robert F Kennedy where has called vaccines a “conspiracy” to “wipe out” black people. Jenkins is a co-founder of the Freedom Airway & Freedom Travel Alliance, a company founded in late 2020 to help its members travel around the world without observing any masking, quarantining, vaccination, or other pandemic control measures.

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