Researchers have found that only 12 people are responsible for the vast majority of misleading claims and inaccuracies about COVID-19 vaccines that spread on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
This “Disinformation Dozen” is said to account for 65% of anti-vaccination misinformation on social media.
The dozen include anti-vaccination campaigners, alternative health entrepreneurs, and doctors.
Some of them have multiple platforms and often promote “natural health” by selling supplements and books.
Many of the 12 have circulated medical claims that have already been debunked and refuted, prompting both members of Congress and state attorney generals to urge social media companies to ban them.
Facebook has now removed 16 accounts from both Facebook and Instagram and imposed restrictions on 22 other accounts, such as not recommending them to other users, reducing the reach of their posts and preventing them from applying through paid ads.
However, Facebook also disputed the methodology of the study, saying it was unclear what criteria the group used to select the social media posts.
Twitter has permanently suspended two of the “Disinformation Dozen” for repeated rule violations, required other accounts to remove certain tweets, and affixed labels that refer to credible information about vaccinations.
In total, Twitter has removed more than 22,400 tweets for violating its COVID-19 guidelines.
Amid the crackdown, some prolific members of the vaccine disinformation have toned down their posts and told their followers they are being censored.
One notorious member of the 12 is anti-vaccination campaigner Robert Kennedy Jr., who has long accused vaccination of causing many illnesses, including autism.
For more information, read the original story in NPR.