Twelve no vax influencers are enough to generate up to 70% of fake news in English about the coronavirus. The report of Center for countering digital hate, a US non-profit organization that monitors the spread of hate online and disinformation linked to Covid.
Three of these twelve (Joseph Mercola, Del Bigtree, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr), in particular, are so influential that they are responsible for more than half of that content. Antivax influencers run businesses or organizations with significant income: their sector produces an annual turnover of at least 36 million dollars (based on self-reports) and employs at least 266 people.
Some prominent anti-vaccinists earn six-figure salaries, holding leading roles in anti-vax organizations. One of these is, in fact, Robert F. Kennedy Jr, the grandson of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who makes $ 255,000 a year as president of the Children’s Health Defense, an American activist group he founded, known primarily for its anti-vexing activities and identified as a major source of vaccine misinformation. In his posts (shared on the Instagram profile which has now been removed) Kennedy called the vaccine “deadliest in Covid”, spoke of “Bill Gates who wants to use a chip to monitor us” and the 5G technology that “causes catastrophic biological damage”. Among the antivaccinist influencers are also the alternative medicine guru Mercola and former body building instructors.
I 62 million followers – so many are, on social media – of the anti-vax industry are worth at least 1.1 billion dollars a year, that the platforms pocket from those who buy advertising to reach users skeptical about vaccines.
Just last week, US President Joe Biden had attacked Facebook, saying that fake news on coronavirus «kills people. The only pandemic we have is among unvaccinated people ”and, through spokesperson Jen Psaki, he had asked social media platforms to be more decisive in removing” harmful “posts on vaccines.