A new report from the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) reveals that 65% of the anti-vaccine disinformation online can be traced to just twelve people.
Rashid Ali Buttar (born January 20, 1966) is an American osteopathic physician from Charlotte, North Carolina, who is known as a conspiracy theory and vaccine hesitancy proponent. He is known for his controversial use of chelation therapy for numerous conditions, including autism and cancer. He has twice been reprimanded by the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners for unprofessional conduct and cited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for illegal marketing of unapproved and adulterated drugs.
In March 2021, an analysis by the Center for Countering Digital Hate of Twitter and Facebook anti-vaccine content found Buttar to be one of the top twelve individual and organization accounts producing up to 65% of all anti-vaccine content on the platforms.
COVID-19 conspiracy theories and misinformation
During the 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic, a series of videos featuring Buttar were posted to YouTube by the fake news website Next News Network. In these videos, Buttar advanced a conspiracy theory claiming that NIAID director Anthony Fauci‘s research helped to create COVID-19. He made many other false claims, such as that 5G cell phone networks and “chemtrails” cause COVID-19. YouTube removed the video a week after it was posted, replacing it with a message saying, “This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.”
Will ‘Dr. Disinformation’ Ever Face the Music?
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His statement is a recent example in what has been a steady stream of spurious claims surrounding the covid vaccines and treatments that swirl around the public consciousness. Others include testimony in June by Dr. Sherri Jane Tenpenny before Ohio state legislators that the vaccine could cause people to become magnetized. Clips from the hearing went viral on the internet. On April 9, 2020, Dr. Joseph Mercola posted a video titled “Could hydrogen peroxide treat coronavirus?” which was shared more than 4,600 times. In the video, Mercola said inhaling hydrogen peroxide through a nebulizer could prevent or cure covid.
These physicians are identified as members of the “Disinformation Dozen,” a group of top superspreaders of covid vaccine misinformation on social media, according to a 2021 report by the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate. The report, based on an analysis of anti-vaccine content on social media platforms, found that 12 people were responsible for 65% of it. The group is composed of physicians, anti-vaccine activists and people known for promoting alternative medicine.
“Medical misinformation doesn’t just result in people making bad personal and community health choices, but it also divides communities and families, leaving an emotional toll,” said Moran, the University of Washington researcher. “Misinformation narratives have real sticking power and impact people’s ability to make safe health choices.”
[Update: This story was revised at 2:40 p.m. ET on Sept. 23, 2021, to state that ivermectin is primarily used in the U.S. for animals.]
Future osteopathic doctors fight against the ‘disinformation dozen’ to save their profession
By: Susan Tebben – August 20, 2021 12:55 am
When Dr. Sherri Tenpenny told a hearing of the Ohio House Health Committee that the COVID-19 vaccine magnetized people, not only was she relaying scientifically unfounded and false claims about the vaccine, she was also contributing to an ongoing skepticism of her profession.
Tenpenny — who was invited to speak that day by an Ohio legislator who authored anti-vaccine legislation — is one of the “disinformation dozen,” as the Center for Countering Digital Hate labels 12 people who use their large social media following to share information that critics say amounts to spreading lies about COVID-19 and creating harm to public health. In addition to Tenpenny, the list includes two other doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs).
“It was disheartening to see that there were these three DOs using these large platforms to misinform the public instead of to relay science and data,” said Tyler Russell.
Russell is starting his first year as a medical student at Ohio University’s Heritage School of Osteopathic Medicine. He spent five years in the Army, and when deciding what to do for the rest of his life, he said he wanted to choose a career that would impact the lives of others on a daily basis.
“I wanted to choose a job where I could really truly promote the common good,” Russell said.
It was that common good that informed Russell’s decision to join what is now 81 other medical students, doctors, staff and faculty on a letter to the Cleveland-based Tenpenny and fellow DOs, Dr. Rashid Buttar of Charlotte, N.C. and Dr. Joseph Mercola of Coral Gables, Fla.
“Your dangerous propaganda angers and embarrasses us,” the letter states. “We must continually explain to family members and friends that you are irresponsible outliers taking these positions for personal gain, and do not represent the broader, educated osteopathic community.”
It continues by calling the words of Tenpenny, Buttar and Mercola “dishonorable,” and states their work “stands in stark contrast with the honorable and even heroic work of of those osteopathic physicians who have been on the frontlines of the U.S. COVID-19 response.”
The letter was drawn up because the students and their doctor-professors thought that the three wouldn’t be treated as individual physicians with individual opinions, but as messengers for the greater osteopathic profession, something that MDs don’t have to worry about as much.
“DOs have struggles with the perception of quackery,” said Dr. Stevan Walkowski, chair of OU’s Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Department. “Public perception, perception amongst (MDs), perception among the media, it all leads to difficulties in establishment of a clear identity.”
“If you’ve gotten flu shots during the past ten years, you will test positive for the Wuhan strain of the COVID-19 flu – Dr. Rashid Buttar”.
An image shared online has made the false claim that the flu vaccine makes people test positive for COVID-19.
The image (here) shows the following quote: “If you’ve gotten flu shots during the past ten years, you will test positive for the Wuhan strain of the COVID-19 flu – Dr. Rashid Buttar”.
Buttar, a U.S. anti-vaccine advocate, can be seen in an interview saying (at 11.30) “the studies clearly show that if you’ve had a flu shot you’re going to test positive for COVID-19″. (here)
The claim is not true. Flu shots do not contain the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that flu vaccines are derived from influenza viruses. They are produced either using an inactivated flu virus, which is not infectious, or by taking a single gene from a flu virus and using it to produce an immune response without causing infection. (here)
SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the disease COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 is a coronavirus, not an influenza virus, and so would not be present in any flu vaccine. (here)
In some instances you can test positive for a virus after receiving a vaccine, and the CDC notes that after receiving an intranasal administration of live attenuated influenza virus vaccine (LAIV) “it may be possible to detect LAIV strains up to 7 days after vaccination, and in rare situations, for longer periods”. (here)
However, this would not make someone test positive for COVID-19. Public Health England (PHE) told Reuters that the test used to diagnose COVID-19 specifically detects SARS-CoV-2, not other viruses.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) states: “The vaccine does not contain any live viruses, so it cannot cause flu. You may get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards, and your arm may feel a bit sore where you had the injection. Other reactions are rare, and flu vaccines have a good safety record.” (here)
False. The flu vaccine will not make someone test positive for COVID-19.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
A Toxic ‘Infodemic’: The Viral Spread Of COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories
Despite promises from tech executives, potentially dangerous misinformation is flourishing on major online platforms.By Jesselyn Cook04/07/2020 01:44pm EDT | Updated April 8, 2020
Dr. Rashid Buttar has spent the past two weeks spewing coronavirus conspiracy theories to anyone who will listen. In a series of viral videos, he sits alone in a dimly lit room and surmises that a U.S.-funded doctor from Wuhan, China, engineered the virus as a state-sanctioned bioweapon — alongside a litany of other glaring falsehoods.
After warning that corrupt government leaders will seize on the crisis to enact authoritarian rule, Buttar — a widely discredited osteopath — directs viewers to his website, where he sells information packages that cost up to $450. Only there, he claims, can he share the “real truth” in its entirety.
As the COVID-19 emergency rages on, tech giants including Facebook and YouTube have pledged to crack down on harmful virus-related misinformation that threatens to undermine the urgent work health officials are doing to keep people reliably informed.
Yet Buttar, who has long been accused of exploiting and endangering his patients, has reached an enormous audience on those platforms — contributing to what experts are calling an “infodemic” running parallel to the worst public health crisis in a century.
Buttar, a practitioner of “alternative” medicine, had relatively limited online influence — until he started video blogging about coronavirus conspiracy theories a couple weeks ago. His videos blew up before his eyes.
“The first four parts [of the video series] … have gotten 1.4 million views, or something ridiculous like that, in less than a week,” Buttar marveled in a recent livestream, after admitting his shock that his various social media accounts hadn’t already been terminated for content violations. “My YouTube channel was only 1,400 [subscribers]. I think it just crossed 10,000.”
His YouTube following has since ballooned to more than 43,000 subscribers, and his COVID-19 videos — in which he contends the outbreak is a “false flag” orchestrated to strip people of their rights, and discourages viewers from getting a vaccine when it becomes available — have been watched hundreds of thousands of times. Another YouTube account that shared one of his clips rapidly pulled in close to a million views.
But having a massive following on major social media networks can come with its own implicit air of legitimacy, and Buttar has wielded that influence to spread his conspiracy theories as widely as possible.
Like others exploiting the pandemic, he has promoted unproven (and disproven) COVID-19 remedies, discredited public health officials and sowed doubt about the safety of a future coronavirus vaccine — the key thing experts say will save countless lives. He has also propagated already debunked falsehoods about the effect of 5G technology on the immune system, and disparaged Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, who has been so inundated with threats that he now requires an enhanced security detail.
As for Buttar, having a few of his videos taken offline has hardly deterred him ― his channels are still up and running without penalty.
In a newly uploaded YouTube video, after complaining about having his content censored, he proceeds to promote a disproven virus remedy, warn against vaccines and label COVID-19 a “man-made virus.” On Facebook hours later, Buttar railed against 5G and plugged his website.
Your Guide to Health-Related Legal Matters
Rashid A. Buttar, D.O., who operates the Center for Advanced Medicine and Clinical Research in central North Carolina, has signed a consent order (shown below) under which he agreed to (a) be reprimanded, (b) obey all laws and all rules and regulations involving medical practice, and (c) to provide an informed consent form that includes …Continue Reading >
Rashid A, Buttar, D.O., who diagnoses nearly every patient he sees with heavy metal toxicity, is facing two complaints that accuse him of exploiting a total of eight patients. One complaint accuses him of charging cancer patients exorbitant fees for worthless tests and treatments, The other complaint, shown below, accuses him of mistreating four patients whom he …Continue Reading >
In September 2009, in two separate complaints, the North Carolina Medical Board accused Rashid A. Buttar, D.O. of exploiting a total of eight pages. One complaint, shown below, accuses him of charging cancer patients exorbitant fees for worthless tests and treatments. The other complaint accuses him of mistreating four patients whom he falsely diagnosed with heavy …Continue Reading >
Rashid A. Buttar, D.O., who operates the Center for Advanced Medicine and Clinical Research in central North Carolina, has been charged with exploiting four patients by charging exorbitant fees for worthless tests and treatments. The complaint (shown below) states: All four patients received frequent, expensive treatments that had no recognized scientific evidence of any validity …Continue Reading >
Fact-checked by: Re:Check
2020/05/26 | Latvia
FALSE: Dr. Rashid Buttar stating Dr. Anthony Fauci is responsible for causing the new Coronavirus pandemic; there are no deaths recorded caused by COVID-19.
Explanation: Fauci was one of many who warned of the possibility of a new pandemic, he did not cause it.
This false claim originated from: FB
The #CoronavirusFacts database records fact-checks published since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic and its consequences are constantly evolving and data that was accurate weeks or even days ago might have changed. Remember to check the date when the fact-check you are reading was published before sharing it.