The Center to Counter Digital Hate (CCDH), a British NGO, has conducted a recent investigation that has reached several prosecutors in the United States. Among others, they have analyzed a battery of 812,000 posts in English from the anti-vaccine movement on Facebook and Twitter between February 1 and March 16 of this year.
His conclusion: 65% of the misinformation generated about the pandemic is attributable to twelve accounts. The media concentration is even more intense if it fits on Facebook: there those twelve accounts account for 73% of the total covid disinformation.
The twelve of disinformation: They have first and last names and each one of them offers different forms of infoxication. Ty and Charlene Bollinger were already popular for their company of hoaxes about cancer, a speech from which they later profit in different ways (they sell books, have a website that reports visits, promotions of third-party therapeutic courses), and they jumped on the bandwagon of the coronavirus. Kelly Brogan claims to be a “holistic psychiatrist” and has ties to Goop. Sayer Ji He is the main champion of the group of “conspirituality” or anti-system spiritual revolution. Rizza Islam and Kevin Jenkins are focused on reaching African American and Latino groups from that racial angle. This woman is specialized in the tyranny and the weakening of the health of masks, these two were the ideologues of the connection between Bill Gates and 5G, etc.
How is it possible that they are so relevantIf we also talk about accounts that, a priori, do not seem to be as relevant as the destructive power they can exert on the population. Joseph Mercola, the most famous, has 1.7 million followers on Facebook and 280,000 on Twitter, while Sayer Ji is followed by just 50,000 and 10,000 followers respectively on those apps, and the figures for the others are in between.
The problem is twofold: a) they are highly active, capable of generating together up to 10,000 monthly publications themselves (they can be both brainy articles and funny memes), and b) that their messages are spread not only directly among their followers, but also amplified in Anglo-Saxon groups and in other languages by intermediaries who disseminate and translate their posts in open and closed groups.
¿And what have the platforms done so far? During the time they conducted their investigations, the CCDH saw that, despite their own complaints and those of other users, nine members of the select group continue today with their accounts open on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and only three of them Their accounts were deleted on one of these three platforms while they remained active on the other two (in fact, and in what we have reviewed, one of them has subsequently had his blocked Twitter account returned).
According to its follow-up to the disinformation of all 2020, the NGO ensures that no company did enough to combat 95% of the hoaxes about Covid and vaccines. Although for its part Facebook ensures that they have labeled as “questioned information” or have deleted up to 167 million posts on this subject in the indicated period.
Dependence of groups on Facebook: In 2017, after Cambridge Analitica, Zuckerberg strengthened the importance of groups, a functionality that they had since 2010 but had not taken off, and that helps communities with determined interests to withdraw from the view of the general public, creating less ideological friction and also less complaints and anger about the content circulating on the social network (moderation passed to the managers of the groups themselves, the responsibility also to them). Also, let’s not forget, they became an essential source to maintain and even increase their engagement figures and improvement of commercial performance when the open feed was losing followers.
In four years, they went from 100 million groups to 400. According to The Wall Street Journal, by August 2020, 70 out of 100 “civic” groups had problems of spreading hate speech, misinformation or selective harassment. Among these echo chambers would also be those of the anti-vaccines.