Most of the ads on Facebook that spread false information about vaccines were funded by two organizations run by well-known anti-vaccination activists, a new study in the journal found by Vaccine.
The World Mercury Project, led by Robert F Kennedy Jr., and Stop Mandatory Vaccinations, a campaign by Larry Cook, bought 54% of the anti-vaccine ads displayed on the platform during the study. .
"We were completely shocked," said David Broniatowski, a professor of engineering at George Washington University, one of the authors of the report. "These two individuals make up the majority of the content." The crowd funding platform banned by Cook fundraisers in March 2019. YouTube has been demonized by Cook's videos.
Kennedy is the son of former United States attorney Bobby Kennedy. He also has a nonprofit dedicated to environmental causes. Kennedy's brother, sister and nephew publicly criticized his "dangerous misinformation" about vaccines. They called his work against vaccination, "not surprisingly wrong".
In fact, vaccines are one of the safest and most effective medical interventions developed.
Vaccine study journal is the first to review anti-vaccine ads in the Facebook advertising archive. The archive is a database of ad disclosures created by Facebook after the platform was criticized for spreading misinformation during the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Facebook has more than two billion users and almost 68% of Americans get their news from the platform, the study said. In 2019, the World Health Organization named vaccine skepticism as one of the top 10 global health threats worldwide. susceptible to doubts about vaccines. In particular, women and parents of children were targeted by Stop Mandatory Vaccination, and Cook was even tested by the UK Advertising Standards Authority last year.
"Unless you're in the target audience you won't see an ad, so it's hard to know what other organizations might be running," said Emily Lowther, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Hospitals Association, which was automatically deleted pro-vaccinations from Facebook. It's not clear why Facebook deleted the ads.
"From our organizational perspective, incorrect vaccine information causes real harm. to individuals and their communities. "  Researchers from George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland reviewed more than 500 ads posted between December 2018 and February 2019, when Facebook updated its policies vaccine-related. Of the ads, 163 were pro-vaccine, and 145 promoted vaccine damage. led by Kennedy and Cook.
Anti-vaccine ads tend to be seen by more people, and have a larger budget. With up to $ 499 per ad, vaccine counter-attacks “reach audiences of between 5,000 and 50,000 people regularly”. Often, they also link back to products that people can buy, including "natural" remedies, books and seminars. sic) ".
Researchers also say that the new Facebook policies established to promote transparency actually punish the pro-vaccination of ads by hospitals and health care providers." flag, "said Nicholas Marcouiller, a digital strategist with Tunheim, whose ads are for the Minnesota Hospitals Association." We are not adjusting our messaging to get them passed. "
Marcouiller said most hospital organization ads are automatically flagged as politically sensitive, and social media workers then re-submit them to Facebook for human review,
"No wonder someone thinking critically could make an ad run on the system, "Marcouiller said." It's a luxury that Minnesota has a strong hospital organization to do the work for our state. "They posted twelve – dozens of anti-vaccine ads every year, and recognize new Facebook disclosure requirements.
"Although they spread false information, they follow the letter of the terms," Broniatowski said. y a situation where the letter of the terms is inconsistent with the purpose of the terms. "