According to a study, a small group of anti-vaccination activists is using misinformation to reach 59 million users on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Moreover, Facebook is doing practically nothing about it. This endangers lives, health as well as our economy.

As the Swiss Tages-Anzeiger reports, a dozen people only are “behind the vast majority of false information shared online about the coronavirus. This is the conclusion of a new study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a London-based non-profit organization that specializes in combating hate on the Internet. According to the study, around 65% of the content shared on social media can be traced back to the same twelve people – the so-called “disinformation dozen”.

“Living in full view of the public on the internet are a small group of individuals who do not have relevant medical expertise and have their own pockets to line” writes CCDH founder Imran Ahmed. These individuals abuse social media platforms “to misrepresent the threat of Covid and spread misinformation about the safety of vaccines.”

On Facebook alone, they are said to be responsible for 73% of the anti-vaccine content on the platform. The study also found that 95% of the reported Covid misinformation is not removed by Facebook. For the purpose of the study, CCDH has analyzed over 812,000 anti-vaccine posts.

Doctors also among vaccination opponents

Prominent spreaders of false information include Ty and Charlene Bollinger, Sherri Tenpenny, Rizza Islam, Rashid Buttar, Erin Elizabeth, Sayer Ji, Kelly Brogan, Christiane Northrup, Ben Tapper and Kevin Jenkins. Many of them belong to religious communities or are active on channels dedicated to wellness-related content. Various physicians are also among the influential vaccination opponents. Among them is osteopath Sherri Tenpenny, who regularly speaks out against the wearing of masks and claims that they tend to lower the immune system.

A nephew of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy is also among the disinformation dozen, according to CCDH. Among other claims, Robert F. Kennedy Junior spread conspiracy theories linking Covid vaccines to autism and the Covid pandemic to 5G mobile technology.

… However, the CCDH is calling on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to consistently block all of these individuals’ accounts.

“Facebook, Google, and Twitter have policies in place to prevent the spread of misinformation about vaccines, but to date they all have failed in their enforcement,” writes Imran Ahmed. Updated policies and statements would have little value if they were not consistently enforced. If the few accounts responsible for the majority of vaccine-critical content were blocked, the amount of disinformation could be significantly reduced.

… Facebook is defending itself against criticism from the U.S. government. “We will not be distracted by accusations that are not backed by facts,” a company spokesperson stated. He noted that it was a fact that more than two billion people had found important and accurate information about the coronavirus on Facebook. In addition, 3.3 million Americans have apparently used the feature allowing users to find out how and where to get vaccinated. “The facts show that Facebook is helping to save lives. Period,” the spokesperson explained.

Read the full article here (in German) and the full study here.