Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician, has made a fortune selling food supplements and other alternative medicine through his online store.
Mercola is also known for peddling health disinformation on the Internet and had trended last year due to his stance about the coronavirus pandemic.
As the number of anti-vaxxers in the United States continues to rise, activists, pro-science groups, and the FDA are doing everything they can to correct any disinformation regarding the virus and the vaccine.
Joseph Mercola History of Coronavirus Disinformation
According to the Center for Countering Digital Hate or CCDH, only 12 people are responsible for 65% of the anti-vaccine disinformation online, and one of them is Joseph Mercola.
Mercola is a promoter of anti-vaccination myths. His previous anti-vax screed before the coronavirus pandemic was the HPV vaccine.
The doctor is a back of the anti-vaccination movement over the past ten years. He has donated more than $4 million to anti-science groups, including the National Vaccine Information Center, the most prominent anti-vaccine organization in the United States.
An article from Forbes called the doctor a master promoter who "uses every trick of traditional and Internet marketing to grow his business." The article even compared him to the "snake oil salesman of the 1800s."
The millionaire businessman has over a million followers on Facebook alone, and in 2020, he promoted several unproven treatments for COVID-19, including the intake of bleach.
The CDC slammed Mercola after other anti-vaxxers started to follow his "bleach advice." It left more than 800 people dead, according to the BBC.
Imran Ahmed, the CEO of CCDH, called the doctor a "superspreader of anti-vaccine and coronavirus disinformation."
Giving in to Pressure
The millionaire behind the health website Mercola.com announced back in May that he will be removing all of the articles on his site that claimed certain food supplements and vitamins could cure COVID-19.
The announcement came after the CCDH, 12 state attorneys general, and a couple of U.S. lawmakers pressured him and several social media companies to remove articles and posts regarding the virus that are not scientifically proven.
Mercola also received a letter from the Food and Drug Administration or the FDA in March, warning him to stop promoting supplements as a cure for COVID-19.
The CCDH labeled Mercola as one of the members of the "disinformation dozen."
The "disinformation dozen" consists of popular influencers who had released dangerous anti-science articles and posts.
As the US Government urged the social companies to take action against disinformation, more than 20 Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts operated by anti-vaxxers have been removed over the past month. However, Mercola's social media accounts are still active.
The anti-vaccine movement thrived on social media during the pandemic, especially on Facebook. The CCDH reported that more than 31 million people follow anti-vaccine groups online.
Despite the negative reputation of Mercola, his book "The Truth About COVID-19" still ended on Amazon's bestseller list.
When asked about being added to the list of influencers who spread disinformation online, Mercola called the CCDH a progressive cancel-culture leader. He also blamed Microsoft founder Bill Gates and big pharmaceutical companies for deleting his articles, calling it a violation of free speech.
This article is owned by Tech Times
Written by Sophie Webster