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Antivax organizations “United Medical Freedom Super PAC” and “Virginia Freedom Keepers” organizing a pro MAGA rally as part of Jan. 6 events

Last year, just before the pandemic hit, anti vaxxers celebrated a victory in New Jersey. A hub for the pharma industry, they had managed to block legislation to limit vaccine exemptions. The achievement came after pressure from local antivax organizers, national influencers that used their channels to support the cause and a successful advocacy push by anti-vax activists withinJewish Ultra Orthodox communities in the tri-state area.

A lot has been said and written about the topic of antivax and medical misinformation over the past year.The conversation has largely focused on the role of social media in growing anti-science sentiment and has therefore highlighted the need for online platforms to better limit medical misinformation, and to scrutinize the steps platforms take towards this end. Even when covering protests against lockdowns and hearings featuring anti-mask speakers, reporting has tended to focus on how social media played a role in turning such individuals. While the growing spotlight on the role of social media is important, we should be more vigilant of the communication channels and advocacy efforts taking place outside the social media ecosystem as well as the cause’s increasing ability to weave itself into the fabric of other movements online and beyond by relying on anti-establishment sentiment. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen a greater maturity of the anti-science movement into a more organized institution that poses threats greater than just influencing fringe individuals’ state of mind and fueling distrust towards public health. …


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A lot has been written about the dismissal of facts and reality by President Trump and his allies and their relentless effort to push “alternative facts” in order to create a content ecosystem claiming Trump has won the election but has been prevented from securing the presidency due to collusion of the media, Democrats, RINOs (“Republicans in name only”) and, according to one theory, the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. An analysis of the top 10,000 links shared on Facebook public groups over the past week (Nov 15–22, 2020) highlight how the information ecosystem is polarized. …


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Conversations about a Covid-19 vaccine have been ongoing since the disease came into our lives. As researchers, pharma companies and governments push ahead with vaccine development, chatter online is gaining steam. Mapping the conversation around vaccines on Facebook public groups over the month of August using Crowdtangle hints at a very polarized universe of conversation. On one side lies traditional media (both right-wing and left-wing) that is being shared and discussed within a cluster of pro-science and liberal communities. …


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Accounts on Instagram spreading the “confession” alleging U.S. is responsible to Covid19.

In an earlier post I described the emergence of an anonymous “confession” blaming the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) alongside Gilead Sciences, UNC, Jared Kushner and several other entities for the dissemination of SARS CoV 2. The post was published on Facebook, but despite coordinated efforts on the platform and on Twitter did not get a lot of traction. That said, on Chinese platform, Weibo, a screenshot of the post went viral with dozens of thousands of shares and likes.

An article by The Daily Beast, that was published several days later brought Facebook response to the incident: “the accounts use some of the same methods as a recently busted pro-China propaganda push.” The response mentioned a “red flag” according to which some of the accounts appeared to be operating from Bangladesh, which appeared in earlier reports of Pro-China operations (Spamoflague Dragon by Graphika). According to the article “the company suspended them and they’ll remain suspended unless and until they can prove they’re operated by an authentic person.” …


On 8/11/2020, a newly activated Facebook account by the name of “Smantha Hill”, published a long post, claiming to deliver a first-hand explosive testimony about the real origins of COVID-19, starting with a supposed confession: ”Sorry, we played an evil part in the outbreak of COVID-19”. The post’s author, pretending to own the Facebook account, claimed to be a female scientist of Indian origin who had worked with renowned American coronavirus researchers over the past several years. In the following conspiratorial narrative, she tied together U.S. military, Fort Detrick Lab, Gilead Sciences, Jared Kushner, the CDC, the CIA Event 201, and investment firm Blackrock, in a long tale claiming COVID-19 had originated in the U.S.with a detailed graph showing the connections between the entities accompanying the testimony. …


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One of the pro-Kremlin SouthFront’s new YouTube account

UPDATE: Since this post has been published, Facebook apparently took action against SouthFront, and links from the website cannot be shared on the platform. According to a SouthFront post, this action took place on 8/8. SouthFront is now linking to its articles under different urls, including the one of Globalresearch dot ca. The action by Facebook could be attributed to a recent report published by The US State Department about the Pillars of Russian Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem.///


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Source: Buzzsumo, CrowdTangle

When looking into the tool box used by the anti science movement, and particularly during Covid-19, one great source for science deniers, is science itself. To be more specific, PubMed, the NIH’s online repository of peer-reviewed biomedical and life sciences literature.

Data from Buzzsumo and Crowdtangle suggests that the most shared and engaged PubMed url’s over the past year (May 2019 — May 2020) were papers weaponized for claims that masks are harmful, Chloroquine is an effective treatment and vaccines are dangerous.

The intention of PubMed is noble — an open source database in order to advance science research — but in practice, in addition to its benefits, PubMed is also adding some noise to the already over flooded public information ecosystem. scientific papers are being cherry-picked and taken out of context to support false allegations, defy fact-checking mechanisms, and push conspiracy theories against health authorities. …


In January 2020, before we were familiar with Covid-19, Alex Jones’ channel, Infowars, hosted Del Bigtree — a producer, and antivax streamer — to explain the “vaccine choice’’ protests held in New Jersey. Bigtree went from criticizing vaccination legislation to rooting what he considers scientists’ false belief in vaccines, then to a WHO vaccine “safety scandal” and to the claim that pharma owns the media and is trying to censor him. With those claims, Bigtree, an occasional guest at Inforwars, has grown his online audience over the past couple of years via his weekly show featuring antivax, pseudoscience and wellness experts. But as social media companies have clamped down on ads and changed recommendation algorithms he found another way to create buzz. Throughout 2019, as more states across the U.S. pushed legislation to limit vaccine exemptions, Bigtree live-streamed protests in multiple state capitals, and spoke alongside Robert F. Kennedy Jr.


Much attention has been given to Robert Kennedy Jr. Instagram account, specifically focusing on his series of stories and posts about Bill Gates, 5G and other conspiratorial suggestions related to Covid-19 (see NYTimes, Politifact) . In a previous post, I mapped the impact RFK Jr.’s false anti-Gates Instagram post had outside of the platform with the help of a pro-Kremlin outlet, antivax communities and conspiracy theorists on Youtube and Facebook with a reach of 1M+ users. One thing that has been left less noticed is that RFK Jr. …


The Covid19 pandemic is emphasizing the limitations of efforts taken by tech platforms to tackle dissemination of false information and harmful content. As adversarial actors easily find loopholes and alternative bypasses to push misleading narratives to the public domain, platforms should do more to keep information flow cleaner, but we should not look to Silicon Valley to provide comprehensive policies tackling this. It is not their job, and they have no real incentive to do so.

Leveraging multi platform presence to bypass tech “whackamole

Over the course of the past year, major social media companies have taken steps to curb the spread of false information. Stumbling upon antivax content on Facebook, Youtube or Pinterest has become a bit harder as search engines and recommendation algorithm adjustments have limited the exposure to multiple problematic accounts, pages, and channels and narrowed existing “data voids”. These efforts have probably yielded some fruits. Indeed, in 2019 only one of the 10 most viewed “vaccines” related videos on Youtube, could be categorized as antivax content, while the other videos were produced by authorities (such as the CDC), private channels such as Bill Gates, or Youtube science vloggers. …

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AdiCo - A Misinformation Blog

Diving into digital rabbit holes since 2010.

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