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Apostles of Bad News: Just 12 People Are Behind Most Vaccine Hoaxes On Social Media, Research Shows

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Shannon Bond reports on wellsprings of misinformation and lies:

Researchers have found just 12 people are responsible for the bulk of the misleading claims and outright lies about COVID-19 vaccines that proliferate on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

“The ‘Disinformation Dozen’ produce 65% of the shares of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms,” said Imran Ahmed, chief executive officer of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which identified the accounts.

Now that the vaccine rollout is reaching a critical stage in which most adults who want the vaccine have gotten it, but many others are holding out, these 12 influential social media users stand to have an outsize impact on the outcome.

These figures are well-known to both researchers and the social networks. Some of them run multiple accounts across the different platforms. They often promote “natural health.” Some even sell supplements and books.

Many of the messages about the COVID-19 vaccines being widely spread online mirror what’s been said in the past about other vaccines by peddlers of health misinformation.

“It’s almost like conspiracy theory Mad Libs. They just inserted the new claims,” said John Gregory, deputy health editor at NewsGuard, which rates the credibility of news sites and has done its own tracking of COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation “superspreaders.”

The claims from the “Disinformation Dozen” range from “denying that COVID exists, claiming that false cures are in fact the way to solve COVID and not vaccination, decrying vaccines and decrying doctors as being in some way venal or motivated by other factors when they recommend vaccines,” Ahmed said.

Many of the 12, he said, have been spreading scientifically disproven medical claims and conspiracies for years.

Which provokes the question: Why have social media platforms only recently begun cracking down on their falsehoods?

Both members of Congress and state attorneys general have urged Facebook and Twitter to ban the “Disinformation Dozen.”

“Getting Americans vaccinated is critical to putting this pandemic behind us. Vaccine disinformation spread online has deadly consequences, which is why I have called on social media platforms to take action against the accounts propagating the majority of these lies,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., told NPR.

Social networks crack down on COVID-19 vaccine claims

The companies have stopped short of taking all 12 figures offline entirely, but they have stepped up their fight: They’ve labeled misleading posts. They’ve removed falsehoods. In some cases, they’ve banned people who repeatedly share debunked claims.

Facebook said it’s taken  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Here are the 12 blackguards listed in the Center’s report (which is worth reading):

1 Joseph Mercola
2 Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
3 Ty & Charlene Bollinger
4 Sherri Tenpenny
5 Rizza Islam
6 Rashid Buttar
7 Erin Elizabeth
8 Sayer Ji
9 Kelly Brogan
10 Christiane Northrup
11 Ben Tapper
12 Kevin Jenkins

Written by Leisureguy

14 May 2021 at 12:25 pm

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