Two U.S. Senators are pressuring social-media companies to remove the accounts of a handful of users identified as “superspreaders” of lies about COVID-19 vaccines. Among the “Disinformation Dozen” called out last month in a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) is Christiane Northrup, of Yarmouth, the famous women’s health guru whose promotion of “alternative medicine” has devolved into irrational fear-mongering and conspiracism in recent years.
Last Friday, Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, and New Mexico’s Ben Ray Luján sent a letter to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey urging them to kick Northrup and others off their websites. “For too long, social media platforms have failed to adequately protect Americans by not taking sufficient action to prevent the spread of vaccine disinformation online,” the lawmakers wrote. “Despite your policies intended to prevent vaccine disinformation, many of these accounts continue to post content that reach millions of users, repeatedly violating your policies with impunity.”
“Living in full view of the public on the internet are a small group of individuals who do not have relevant medical expertise and have their own pockets to line,” wrote CCDH leader Imran Ahmed. “[A]nti-vaccine activists on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter reach more than 59 million followers, making these the largest and most important social media platforms for anti-vaxxers.”
Examining posts over a two-month period earlier this year, the group’s researchers found that nearly two-thirds of all the false content about COVID vaccines posted on Facebook and Twitter originated from those 12 accounts. Last year, the CCDH also found that social-media platforms failed to act on 95 percent of the COVID-19 misinformation spread via their sites.
As Mainer reported last fall, Northrup has tried to prop up her fading public profile by embracing far-right conspiracy theories, like QAnon, in a bid to attract followers. Last spring, the New York Times identified her as a primary spreader of the “documentary” Plandemic, which claimed a cabal of elites, including Bill Gates and Dr. Anthony Fauci, are using the coronavirus to seize political power and profit off the pandemic.
In 2019, Northrup lent her support to a failed state referendum campaign to expand exemptions to Maine’s student-vaccination requirement. At the time, she likened the public-health program to someone “asking me to set my kid on fire to keep your kid warm.”
The media’s exposure of Northrup’s grift has had no perceptible impact on her popularity on social media. Her personal Facebook page has actually added followers since last fall, and is now seen by nearly 545,000 people. Her Twitter account, with its 113,000-plus followers, is also still active as of this writing.
Northrup has used all the negative attention to continue to build her brand. “When we started, I was only being cancelled in my own state,” she said in a video posted to Facebook earlier this month. “And now I’m a global figure of dissent and truth, and so are all of you.”
In the same April 3 video, Northrup claimed the COVID vaccine rapidly deteriorates your “spleen” and “bone marrow,” and that “99.9%” of people recover from COVID, which is actually no worse than a “very bad cold.”
Northrup is now also promoting her inclusion on the CCDH’s “Disinformation Dozen” list. With help from her daughter, the disgraced doctor plans to print “hundreds of posters” highlighting “facts” about “this thing we are putting in our arm,” including blatant lies like “COVID shots have not been shown to prevent disease in the recipient.”
“A fantastic place to put these posters is in the bathroom stall,” Northrup said on social media. “Either the urinals or the bathroom stall, because you have their attention for a certain amount of time. … If we put these posters everywhere, we can build an entire movement, from the ground up, of truth and freedom and family, and natural-born humans.”
Northrup, a frequent guest on Oprah, has also parlayed her newfound infamy to land public-speaking gigs. Last week, she participated in the far-right Health & Freedom Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Other headliners included QAnon fanatic Gen. Michael Flynn, unhinged pillow salesman Mike Lindell, and pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood, who called for the death, by “firing squad,” of politicians that QAnon followers accuse of child sex trafficking, including “the Clintons, the Obamas, the Bidens [and] the Bushes.”
“This is the resurrection,” Northrup posted online prior to the event. “And I want you rising, rising, rising, with me. I’ve gone from QAnon and conspirituality to one of the twelve most wanted people on the planet. And you know it’s more than twelve, there are millions of us. We shall rise.”