It’s been a week since Facebookannounced a ban on ads “that discourage people from getting a vaccine,” a move that elicited widespread praise as thecoronavirus death toll soars. “We don’t want these ads on our platform,” the social media giant declared.
But Facebook has quietly continued to run anti-vaccination ads — including new ones that launched days after its policy change.
As of Tuesday morning, the alternative medicine company Earthley had more than a dozen active ads on Facebook criticizing vaccines, and in several cases, spreading misinformation. Earthley makes money by selling supposed vaccine alternatives, such as the “elderberry elixir” it promotes on Facebook.
“Ever wondered why your child needs 5+ [Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis] shots? It’s because it isn’t working,” claims one Earthley ad, which contradicts data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another ad suggests vaccines cause autism or neurological injury, a myth that medical authorities have repeatedly debunked. Other ads feature images of scared-looking children and their mothers — and question the effectiveness of not only vaccines but also the CDC-recommended practices of social distancing and wearing face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“THE PEOPLE THAT PROFIT WHEN YOU’RE SICK WILL NOT SELL YOU THE CURE,” reads an Earthley Facebook ad image beneath the caption, “We all know that this fall they are going to be pushing vaccines and masks like crazy!”
Vaccines are rigorously tested and have been deemed safe by an abundance of independent studies. Public healthexperts stress that a coronavirus vaccine, once it’s available, will be vital for ending the pandemic and preventing more deaths. Yet more than 1 in 3 Americans say they won’t take it, according to a Gallup poll — underscoring the harm caused by anti-vaccine propaganda advertised on the world’s biggest social media platform.