Initially pushed by anti-vaccination disinformation peddlers, the video was soon picked up and promoted by minor celebrities – including Larry the Cable Guy and some popular Instagram influencers – widening its spread and underscoring how misleading information about the pandemic easily can gain traction online.
"One of the real issues with getting authoritative information today is that what's surfaced is essentially determined by whoever runs the best marketing campaign," said Renée DiResta, who studies disinformation at the Stanford Internet Observatory.
In the video, anti-vaccine advocate Judy Mikovits attempts to promote conspiracy theories about the origins of, treatments for and government responses to the pandemic. The video also doles out dangerous advice, telling viewers that washing their hands actually increases their risk of getting the coronavirus. It also argues that the virus is a cover for a plot to somehow control people through vaccines.
Mikovits and the producers of the video did not respond to requests for comment.
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