Facebook’s most influential anti-vaxxer is an osteopathic doctor in Florida who employs dozens of staff to help publish more than 600 vaccine hesitant articles.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, 67, earned the top spot in a report about the ‘Disinformation Dozen’ by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), which has recently been cited by President Joe Biden and the White House.
The CCDH, a non-governmental organization, released a list of 12 online personalities in March that have a combined following of 59 million people and are collectively responsible for 65% of vaccine ‘disinformation’, especially on Facebook.
Other people on the list include Mercola’s girlfriend Erin Elizabeth, who is the founder of the website Health Nut News, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Biden recently claimed that Facebook was ‘killing people’ because of vaccine ‘disinformation’ spreading on the platform.
‘They’re killing people,’ Biden said last Friday. ‘Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people.’
On Monday, he was asked to clarify those comments and ripped into the ‘Disinformation Dozen,’ noting he had read the report.
‘Facebook isn’t killing people, these 12 people are out there giving misinformation,’ he said. ‘Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information.’
Dr. Joseph Mercola of Cape Coral, Florida, is listed as the #1 biggest disseminator of COVID misinformation on social media in a report about the ‘Disinformation Dozen.’ He’s shown with girlfriend Erin Elizabeth, who is #7 on the list, in a 2016 photo
Biden recently claimed that Facebook was ‘killing people’ because of vaccine disinformation spreading on the platform, later ripping into the ‘Disinformation Dozen’
The CCDH, a non-governmental organization, released a list of 12 online personalities in March that have a combined following of 59 million people and are collectively responsible for 65% of vaccine ‘disinformation’, especially on Facebook
Earlier this year, Mercola released a book titled ‘The Truth About COVID-19: Exposing The Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal’
The revelations of Mercola’s ‘disinformation’ empire come as the Delta variant of the coronavirus grips the nation, which top doctors have called the ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated.’
Even leading conservatives like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Fox News host Sean Hannity have recently endorsed vaccination, and pushed against ‘demonstrably bad advice’ from anti-vaxxers.
Mercola – and eight others in the ‘Disinformation Dozen’ – remain on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram despite repeatedly violating their terms of service, CCDH noted. His combined social media accounts have around 3.6 million followers.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Mercola for additional comment, as well as Facebook – which owns Instagram – and Twitter for comment on why his accounts have not been removed.
Mercola said in an email to The New York Times that he found it ‘quite peculiar’ that he was ‘named as the #1 super-spreader of misinformation.’
He told the outlet some of his Facebook posts were only liked by hundreds of people and so he didn’t understand ‘how the relatively small number of shares could possibly cause such calamity to Biden’s multibillion dollar vaccination campaign.’
Mercola said he found it ‘quite peculiar’ that he was ‘named as the #1 super-spreader of misinformation’
The listing for Dr. Joseph Mercola, 67, is pictured in a report about the ‘Disinformation Dozen’ by the Center for Countering Digital Hate
Mercola accused the White House of making political efforts against him and claimed the Biden administration was engaging in ‘illegal censorship by colluding with social media companies.’
‘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.
The article that Mercola appears to reference to The New York Times is available to read on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, though DailyMail.com has not found proof that the article has been peer-reviewed.
Mercola, who sells Vitamin D supplements, also noted his conflict of interest in conducting the study – which concluded that ‘there is emerging evidence’ that Vitamin D ‘is associated with the reduced risk and severity of COVID-19.’
Mercola’s Facebook page is pictured still available on Saturday, despite the reports he violated the social media giant’s terms of service
Some examples show Mercola’s claims made to social media
In one post made to Twitter in April 2020, Mercola claimed that ‘nebulized hydrogen peroxide therapy is an inexpensive and simple way treat most viral respiratory illnesses.’
‘All you need is a nebulizer with a face mask that covers your mouth and nose, and common household hydrogen peroxide, available at most grocery stores and pharmacies,’ he wrote.
His post seems to reference a study published last year that theorized if hydrogen peroxide could reduce the hospitalization rate and complications of the SARS-CoV-2 infection.
However, breathing in hydrogen peroxide has been known to cause lung disease and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes in a document from 1978 that breathing it in might exacerbate the symptoms of those with impaired pulmonary function.
In other posts to Instagram, Mercola claimed that the same number of people died in 2020 that died in previous years on average – and that Bill Gates is buying homes to enslave people.
In another post, he appears to suggest that 5G has been linked to health problems like the coronavirus – claiming that the Federal Communication Commission admitted no safety studies on the technology have been conducted or funded by the agency.
Those posts and many similar have spread like wildfire online.
Mercola’s girlfriend Erin Elizabeth, who worked for him from 2009 to 2011, has echoed and spread his claims in a more overt manner
Her posts have earned her bans from Facebook and Instagram
Erin Elizabeth, Mercola’s girlfriend, was seventh on the CCDH list of the ‘Disinformation Dozen’
Two former employees for Mercola told The New York Times that he has a deep knowledge of how to make content go viral and regularly conducts A/B testing to spread his work quickly.
Kolina Koltai, a researcher at the University of Washington who studies online conspiracy theories, called Mercola ‘the pioneer of the anti-vaccine movement.’
‘He’s a master of capitalizing on periods of uncertainty, like the pandemic, to grow his movement,’ Koltai said.
CCDH Director Imran Ahmed told The New York Times that Mercola ‘has been given new life by social media, which he exploits skillfully and ruthlessly to bring people into his thrall.’
The New York Times in its article on Mercola traced one particular article posted on February 9 which casually questioned the legal definition of vaccines before taking thousands of words to declare COVID vaccines a ‘medical fraud.’
The easily debunked article claimed that COVID vaccines ‘alter your genetic coding’ and turn people ‘into a viral protein factory that has no off-switch,’ The New York Times noted.
Within hours, the article was translated into Spanish and Polish and was picked up and spread by dozens of blogs online, including Facebook where it reached more than 400,000 people, The New York Times reported.
Mercola, a Chicago native, started his private practice in 1985 before shifting to natural medicine in the 1990s and starting his website, Mercola.com.
He published his New York Times bestseller The No-Grain Diet in 2003 and has continued to routinely pump out books.
Earlier this year, Mercola released a book titled ‘The Truth About COVID-19: Exposing The Great Reset, Lockdowns, Vaccine Passports, and the New Normal.’
In a description for the book, the publisher notes: ‘Safe, simple, and inexpensive treatment and prevention for COVID-19 have been censored and suppressed to create a clear path for vaccine acceptance.’
‘Effectiveness of the vaccines has been wildly exaggerated and major safety questions have gone unanswered,’ the book also claims.
The book is currently the #1 Bestseller in the Contagious Disease category on Amazon.
In the past, he has often made bizarre health claims then profited off selling vitamins and other treatments to cure them – such as that spring mattresses amplify harmful radiation.
Mercola has also argued for the benefits of tanning beds, claiming that they reduced the chances of getting cancer while selling them for $1,200 to $4,000 each.
People gather during an anti-vaccine demonstration amid the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday
One man holds a sign calling Dr. Anthony Fauci a ‘lier’ during a protest in New York City on Saturday
A woman holds a sign calling for no coronavirus mandates during a protest in New York City on Saturday
A protester holds a sign claiming that 99% of people recover from COVID-19 without having been vaccinated
A man holds a sign protesting against vaccination passports during a demonstration in New York City on Saturday
A man wears a shirt reading ‘My Body My Choice,’ a reference to a slogan used by pro-choice proponents in the ongoing abortion debate
Anti-vaxxers carry signs claiming that medical experts are lying to the American public during a demonstration in New York City on Saturday
A man reacts during an anti-vaccine demonstration while dressed as Uncle Sam on Saturday
As noted by the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are more skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning worldwide than there are lung cancer cases due to smoking. Tanning beds increase the risk of life-threatening melanoma by 75% from just one session.
In 2017, Mercola settled a false-advertising lawsuit related to his claims about tanning beds brought by the Federal Trade Commission and refunded his customers $2.95 million.
He was similarly issued warning letters for selling unapproved health products in 2005, 2006 and 2011 and fined millions of dollars by the Food and Drug Administration.
Mercola’s girlfriend Erin Elizabeth, who worked for him from 2009 to 2011, has echoed and spread his claims in a more overt manner – earning her bans from Facebook and Instagram.
A map shows the percentage of the population in the United States that has received at least one dose of a vaccine
A chart shows the average versus cumulative number of vaccinations in the United States
A chart shows the total number of coronavirus deaths per day since the start of the pandemic
A chart shows the total number of coronavirus deaths per day in June and July
A chart shows the total number of coronavirus infections per day since the start of the pandemic
A chart shows the total number of coronavirus infections per day in June and July
‘Facebook and Instagram deleted All my profiles totaling millions!’ she posted on her website on Saturday.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Elizabeth for more information and additional comment.
In an email to The New York Times, she called the ‘Disinformation Dozen’ report and comments from the Biden administration in the aftermath a ‘witch hunt.’
Anti-vaxxers gathered in the Big Apple on Saturday to protest against vaccination and COVID-19 mandates such as vaccine passports, or the general principle of requiring proof of inoculation to do things like attending events and travelling.
Some protesters carried signs claiming that medical experts are lying to the American public, with signs like ‘Fauci is a lier (sic).’
One mane wore a shirt reading ‘My Body My Choice,’ a reference to a slogan used by pro-choice proponents in the ongoing abortion debate.
Another protester held a sign claiming that 99% of people recover from COVID-19 without having been vaccinated.
All three vaccines in use in the United States have been approved by the FDA, and have been proven to be safe. However, vaccine numbers in certain areas continue to lag behind others.
The CDC notes that 341,039,972 doses have been administered in the United States and that 162.7 million Americans are fully vaccinated, which is only 49% of the total population.
There have been at least 610,720 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic with a total of 34,400,655 official infections.