More than 100 conspiracy theories about Covid, which promote products to about 6 million people, have been found on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.
Facebook insists it has taken more action on health misinformation, but these channels are gaining ground on its platform. In the first three months of this year, the 100 accounts gained almost one million followers. In essence, this means that the company is not living up to its commitment to its government United Kingdom last November, that he would work to stop the exploitation of vaccine misinformation on the internet.
The accounts included a group of Instagrammers called Health Freedom for Humanity (HFFH). The executive director and co-founder of the group is Alec Zeck, a 28-year-old serving in the U.S. Army and an Olympic-level handball player. Zeck's Instagram page has 85.000 followers and hosts a number of misleading claims. His account promotes HFFH, but also leads to a page at linktr.ee, a startup widely used by Instagrammers to direct users to other resources, sponsors and products for sale.
At linktr.ee, Zeck promotes a website «mind / body / spiritWhich sells merchandise and directs users to a Coseva website that sells 95 spray bottles that claim to cleanse the body and brain of heavy metals.
Zeck said: "Our body includes people from all walks of life, united by our belief that compulsory medical procedures of any kind, medical coercion or restrictions on the choice of health, violate basic human rights».
One of the most common ways to make money on Instagram is through affiliate programs. More than a dozen of the accounts investigated promoted heavy metal detox sprays. Many vaccine groups falsely claim that traces of heavy metals such as aluminum used in some vaccines cause health problems.
Other accounts promote supplements and devices that promise to improve well-being while misleading people about the public health emergency that is happening around them.
Although neither Instagram nor Facebook directly benefits from these money making programs, their business model is based on retaining the public. Facebook, Instagram and other social media companies like YouTube, have been regularly criticized for increasing their engagement, attracting users with extremist or conspiratorial content and views.
In response to the allegations, Facebook stated: “We take aggressive action to eliminate misinformation about Covid-19, including false information about approved vaccines."
Following the revelation, a number of accounts were removed, including those belonging to Health Freedom for Humanity and Zeck.