Opportunists Game Facebook with COVID-19 Misinformation for Profit

by Vins
Published: Updated:

According to a March 2021 report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Dr. Eric Nepute began posting misinformation regarding COVID-19 and coronavirus vaccines on Facebook and other social media platforms, where he claimed that Vitamins C and D along with Zinc negated the effects of COVID-19. Promoting misinformation, he sold “free” medicine, for which he charged a ten-dollar shipping fee. As Jasper Jackson reported, “Nepute’s supplement promotion is among the most brazen attempts to convert pandemic misinformation into customers.”

In one posted video, Neptute claimed that a Covid-19 vaccine “does not and will not and cannot stop the infection.” Despite Facebook’s claims that it would take down any misinformation about the coronavirus, it was not until after the Bureau of Investigative Journalism published an article on this matter that Facebook take down Nepute’s content. Facebook’s action appears to have been the result of negative attention brought by the article; they were reactive instead of proactive, as they claimed to be, the Bureau’s Jasper Jackson reported.

Nepute broke the Hippocratic oath by profiteering from his misinformation, but he certainly was not the only one taking advantage of Facebook’s platform to make a substantial profit. Joseph Mercola, a multimillionaire, also took to posting misinformation on social media platforms. Mercola’s English-language Facebook page, which boasts 1.8 million followers, presents what Jackson described as “a minefield of false claims, including that MRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna are ‘an experimental gene therapy that could prematurely kill large amounts of the population and disable exponentially more.’” Mercola also used Facebook to promote his new book, The Truth about COVID-19.

Source: Jasper Jackson, “Factchecks and Fake News – but Facebook Still Let Them Post,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism, March 1, 2021, www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2021-02-28/factchecks-and-fake-news-but-facebook-still-let-them-post.

Student Researcher:  Lucas Guaglardi (Indian River State College)

Faculty Evaluator:  Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)