The Disinformation Dozen

Why platforms must act on twelve leading online anti-vaxxers

The Disinformation Dozen

Just twelve anti-vaxxers are responsible for almost two-thirds of anti‑vaccine content circulating on social media platforms. This new analysis of content posted or shared to social media over 812,000 times between February and March uncovers how a tiny group of determined anti-vaxxers is responsible for a tidal wave of disinformation—and shows how platforms can fix it by enforcing their standards.

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Executive summary

Who we are

CCDH is a UK/US non-profit that disrupts the spread of digital hate and misinformation. Anti-Vaxx Watch is an alliance of concerned individuals who are seeking to educate the American public about the dangers of the anti-vax industry.

The Disinformation Dozen reveals that just twelve individuals and their organizations are responsible for the bulk of anti-vaxx content shared or posted on Facebook and Twitter. The majority of the Disinformation Dozen remain on major social media platforms, despite repeated violations of their terms of service.

Key findings

Analysis of a sample of anti-vaxx content that was shared or posted on Facebook and Twitter showed up to 65% of anti-vaccine content can be traced to the leading online anti-vaxxers, who we label the Disinformation Dozen.

  • Individuals were selected based upon their high social media followings and high volume production of anti-vaccine content.
  • Our sample of anti-vaccine content was shared or posted on Facebook or Twitter a
    total of 812,000 times between February 1 and March 16 2021, with 65% of that
    sample attributable to the Disinformation Dozen.
  • In the last two months, our analysis of anti-vaxx content posted or shared to Facebook 689,000 times shows that up to 73% of that content originates from the leading anti-vaxxers included in this report.
  • Analysis of 120,000 anti-vaccine tweets and shares during this period finds that up to 17% feature the Disinformation Dozen.

Deplatforming repeat offenders is the most effective way of stopping the proliferation of dangerous misinformation.

  • The Disinformation Dozen — including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Joseph Mercola, and Ty and Charlene Bollinger, among others — continually violate the terms of service agreements on Facebook and Twitter. While some anti-vaxxers identified by CCDH have been removed from a single platform, comprehensive action has yet to be taken, and most remain active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • CCDH’s ongoing tracking of 425 anti-vaxx accounts finds that the total following across platforms reached 59.2 million in December 2020, an increase of 877,000 since June.