My latest personal disinformation story is this. On the Nextdoor app somebody local to me recently popped up a posting asking about the local availability of vaccines. A few comments in and up pops a crank to advise that vaccines are wholly unnecessary and that all you really need for COVID is to take Vitamin D.
Without attacking them personally, I proceeded to point out, with references, that this “information” was deeply dangerous unsubstantiated nonsense. They were more than a little bit upset.
The original poster decided this was all getting a tad heated and wisely removed his posting along with all comments.
One immediate observation is that the local crank commenter cited somebody whose name, if you are aware of the big-name anti-vaccine cranks, will be wholly familiar. To add to this “credible” source, another familiar name was added.
The first was Joseph Mercola and the second was Sherri Tenpenny.
These names, along with several others, are big bold flashing neon signs that announce “Here be Industrial Strength Grade 1 Bullshit“.
Disinformation Report – The Disinformation Dozen
The Center For Countering Digital Hate has published a report titled “The Disinformation Dozen“.
What this report reveals is that just twelve anti-vaxxers are responsible for almost two-thirds of anti-vaccine content circulating on social media platforms.
As you might perhaps guess, two of those twelve are Mercola and also Tenpenny.
What is rather shocking to some degree is the observation that right in the middle of a pandemic, as we proceed to roll out vaccines, the majority of this Disinformation Dozen remain on major social media platforms, despite repeated violations of their terms of service.
How did the CCDH reach this conclusion?
They sampled anti-vaccine content that was shared or posted on Facebook or Twitter a total of 812,000 times between February 1 and March 16 2021.
- 65% of that sample was attributable to the Disinformation Dozen.
This is not just wrong information, it is deeply dangerous misinformation that will result in people being conned into refusing the vaccine and ending up either dead or with long-term illness.
Deplatforming these top repeat offenders is the most effective way of stopping the proliferation of dangerous misinformation.
- The Disinformation Dozen continually violate the terms of service agreements on Facebook and Twitter. While some anti-vaxxers identified by CCDH have been removed from a single platform, comprehensive action has yet to be taken, and most remain active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- CCDH’s ongoing tracking of 425 anti-vaxx accounts finds that the total following across platforms reached 59.2 million in December 2020, an increase of 877,000 since June 2020.
Things that need to Happen … urgently.
Platforms should establish a clear threshold for enforcement action, such as two strikes, after which restrictions are applied to accounts short of deplaforming them.
Users should be presented with warning screens when attempting to follow links to sites known to host vaccine misinformation, and users exposed to posts containing misinformation should be shown effective corrections.
Facebook should not allow private and secret anti-vaccine Groups where dangerous anti-vaccine disinformation can be spread with impunity.
Who are the Disinformation Dozen?
- Joseph Mercola
- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
- Ty and Charlene Bollinger
- Sherri Tenpenny
- Rizza Islam
- Rashid Buttar
- Erin Elizabeth
- Sayer Ji
- Kelly Brogan
- Christiane Northrup
- Ben Tapper
- Kevin Jenkins
The full CCDH report contains a profile of each with solid evidence.
The above personal accounts, and the following key organisations linked to the disinformation dozen, need to be deplatformed to save lives …
- Children’s Health Defense (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.)
- Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) (Del Bigtree)
- National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) (Barbara Loe Fisher, Joseph Mercola)
- Organic Consumers Association (OCA) (Joseph Mercola)
- Millions Against Medical Mandates
CCDH – The Disinformation Dozen