Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Group Is a Top Buyer of Anti-Vax Facebook Ads - 2019-11-15
One common anti-vaccine conspiracy theory is that the people promoting vaccines are a small, shadowy, well-organized group, a kind of syringe-wielding, surgical mask-covered Deep State forcing their views on an unsuspecting public. The reality, ironically, shows that it's anti-vaccine groups who are small, well-organized and well-funded: in a major new study on vaccine-related Facebook ads, researchers found that over half of anti-vaccine ads on the platform are purchased by just two anti-vax groups, who have successfully gamed Facebook's advertising system, spending minimal amounts of money to reach thousands of people with concocted tales of "medical malfeasance, coverups, and corruption," the study found.
At the same time, pro-vaccine ads were less coordinated and ran a much greater risk of being pulled down for terms of service violations, because many of them were placed by first-time buyers who were less likely to know how to work within Facebook's rules on "political" advertising, which govern vaccine ads.
The study was published on November 13 in the journal Vaccine by researchers from University of Maryland, the George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins University. It's the first major study of public health advertising on Facebook, and the most eyebrow-raising finding is just who is buying and promoting most of the anti-vaccine ads. "Among anti-vaccine advertising buyers," the researchers wrote, "two were responsible for a majority (54 percent) of content: World Mercury Project and an individual buying for the group Stop Mandatory Vaccination."