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Op-Ed: The ‘Disinformation Dozen’ are behind most of the COVID vaccine misinformation on social media

Researchers: Just 12 people are responsible for the bulk of the misleading claims and outright lies about COVID-19 vaccines that proliferate on social media.

High rates of vaccine hesitancy are holding America back from herd immunity—and much of the blame lies with the “Disinformation Dozen,” researchers say. — Photo: © AFP Prakash SINGH
High rates of vaccine hesitancy are holding America back from herd immunity—and much of the blame lies with the “Disinformation Dozen,” researchers say. — Photo: © AFP Prakash SINGH

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.

And this most recent research on anti-vaxxers by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) shows that 12 people, the “Disinformation Dozen,” are responsible for 73 percent of the misinformation found on social media sites.

The research – Pandemic Profiteers, The business of anti-vaxx, is an interesting read, and believe me, these people behind all the lies and conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccine are scamming the public.

In the report, “CCDH exposes the network of businesses, nonprofits, political action
committees, affiliate schemes, and social media marketing empires that form the AntiVaxx Industry. While small businesses struggled through the coronavirus pandemic, these groups reaped at least $1.5 million in PPP loans from the US government.”

John Gregory of NewsGuard, a group that rates news website credibility, says his company has tracked the same dozen, misinformation peddlers. “It’s almost like conspiracy theory Mad Libs. They just inserted new claims,” he said.

In May, Digital Journal reported on the CCDH’s plans to follow the “Disinformation Dozen.” At that time, the CCDH said the group of 12 was responsible for about “65% of the shares of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms,” said Imran Ahmed, chief executive officer of CCDH.

Actually, back in May, when this story broke, Facebook and Twitter began labeling posts by the 12 offenders, while Facebook has removed some and restricted others.

One serial offender, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who appears to believe vaccines cause autism and the 5G cellular network is somehow related to the COVID pandemic, was removed from Instagram, per the Guardian.

CCDH does have some recommendations to curtail these anti-vaxers, and this would also cut into their profits:

Number 10 on their list – “We recommend that social media platforms take action to stop anti-vaxxers profiting from undeclared paid promotions for products, something which is against both platform standards and advertising regulations in the US and UK.”

Bottom line – You, the reader, will just have to take a few minutes and digest this report. It is astounding just how much money is spent and earned passing on lies about the coronavirus vaccine.

And by the way – I haven’t even touched on FOX News, OAN, and several other media networks that encourage high-ranking lawmakers and others to repeat FORMER President Trump’s lies over his election loss and lies about the coronavirus vaccine.



Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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