Question: Why is there so much misinformation online regarding Covid-19 and Vaccines? Answer: It’s insanely profitable for all involved
Despite highly publicized gestures to rid their platforms of “problematic” content, anti-vaxxers along with many other vile actors operate with impunity on most social media platforms. Crackdowns when they happen typically only target larger accounts or add pointless disclaimers that function more as advertisements than actual attempts to get people to question their favorite chiropractor’s opinion on jade eggs. According to a survey[^1] of 409 English-language anti-vaxx accounts across Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook), YouTube, and Twitter, these 409 anti-vaxx actors have a total of 58 million followers. The majority of these pages are from individuals who create anti-vaxx content as a full-time job. Usually they’re able to profit through standard ad revenue from the platform they’re currently hosted on along with selling products associated with their brand. In total the survey approximated that with around 58 million users engaging with anti-vaxx content, social media companies earn close to around a 1$ billion dollars off of advertisements directed towards this customer segment.
Simply put, social media companies tend to allow anti-vaxx and the associated anti-mask/lockdown advocates on their platform because they make them money. Which shouldn’t really shock anyone, these platforms are free to its users because the users themselves are the product being sold. While individuals like Lenka Koloma and Alan Hostetter, and other anti-vaxxers make technically infeasible and laughable claims that vaccines contain microchips meant to track you. Or that 5G towers are a part of that scheme somehow. Ironically it’s their own behavior online is what is really being tracked and profited from. And no there’s really no way to use any of these platforms and not be sucked into their revenue model.
The only time any objectionable material is taken down from these sites is when there’s enough public outrage to spur advertisers to threaten to pull their ads from the platform. Surprisingly companies like coca-cola don’t appreciate their ads being hung up next to a video of a someone spouting off about eugenics or spreading bizarre and hateful rumors[^2]. Simply put Facebook isn’t “woke” it just wants to keep its stock price high.
Coming back to the anti-mask/covid denial crew they operate and exist much in the same way that anti-vaxxers do. And they are one in the same in most cases. Lenka Koloma sells a number of products and services through her online accounts spanning from therapy sessions, books, and videos specifically geared around her denial of Covid-19, facemasks, and fierce hatred for Sprouts, Whole Food, or Costco requiring that she wear a facemask. It’s worth noting that her freedom to breathe agency cards, which could have been provided in printable format where instead being shamelessly sold on her websites. Alan Hostetter pushes his yoga business and sells overpriced and cheaply designed clothing from his site as well as collecting donations for his “activism”. He’s also made numerous attempts to becoming a Q advocate which luckily for his mental state have mostly failed. Peggy Hall does all the above and even more, holding community potluck events that charge $50 or more to just attend along with meetup groups that require a large monthly paid subscription. Like a lot of scammers she uses teespring to sell her clothing designs. Peggy Hall also regularly begs for donations, claiming that facebook or Youtube has already threatened to take her accounts. In truth she’s been saying this for months, but she manages just fine.
I generally hold the view that you should be mindful of the motives behind any money making operation. The common narrative among the ant-vaxx and Covid-19 skeptical crowd is a general distrust of “elites” and their motives behind whatever crummy commercials they happen to be running during the Super Bowl. The sad irony of it all is that while they think of themselves as bravely breaking away from conventional knowledge, they’re just as a much a marketing segment as the rest of us. They question the motives of the marketing firm in New York while failing to see that they’re pockets are being picked by the small town hucksters on their facebook feed.