The Most Influential Spreader of Coronavirus Misinformation Online
Over the past decade, Dr Mercola has built a large operation to promote natural remedies, disseminate anti-vaccination content and profit from it, said researchers who have studied his network. In 2017, he filed an affidavit claiming his net worth was “over $ 100 million.”
And rather than claiming directly online that vaccines don’t work, Dr. Mercola’s posts often ask pointed questions about their safety and discuss studies that other doctors have refuted. Facebook and Twitter have allowed some of its posts to stay online with warning labels, and companies have struggled to create rules to remove nuanced posts.
“Social media has given him new life, which he is skillfully and ruthlessly harnessing to bring people under his grip,” said Imran Ahmed, director of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which studies disinformation and hate speech. His “Disinformation Dozen” report was cited in Congressional hearings and by the White House.
In an email, Dr Mercola said it was “quite special for me to be named the # 1 disinformation super-broadcaster”. Some of his Facebook posts were only liked by hundreds of people, he said. So he didn’t understand “how the relatively small number of stocks could possibly cause such a calamity to Biden’s multibillion-dollar vaccination campaign.”
The efforts against him are political, Dr Mercola added, and he accused the White House of “illegal censorship by colluding with social media companies.”
He did not ask if his coronavirus claims were factual. “I am the lead author of a peer-reviewed publication regarding vitamin D and the risk of Covid-19 and I have every right to inform the public by sharing my medical research,” he said declared. He did not identify the publication and the Times could not verify his claim.
Originally from Chicago, Dr. Mercola opened a small private practice in 1985 in Schaumburg, Illinois. In the 1990s, he began to turn to natural medicine and opened his main website, Mercola.com, to share his treatments, cures, and advice. The site urges people to “take control of your health.”
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