Author: Kiera Butler

How American Influencers Built a World Wide Web of Vaccine Disinformation

Last year, Saphinah Kenyando was struggling to decide whether to get vaccinated against Covid. Kenyando, who is 38 and teaches chemistry and biology at a high school in Kenya, had read about horrifying side effects—blood clots, long-term disabilities—that sounded worse than the virus itself. She watched a (possibly doctored) clip from former US President Donald […]

Monkeypox Disinfo Is Just Like Covid Disinfo—Plus Homophobia

Once upon a time, Alex Berenson was a New York Times journalist covering major stories, from the Iraq war to Hurricane Katrina to the Bernie Madoff scandal. But over the last several years, he’s increasingly focused on a new pet project: owning the libs. In his Substack newsletter “Unreported Truths” he rails against Joe Biden, derides the […]

The Anti-Abortion Movement’s Next Target: Birth Control

A few weeks ago, I attended the annual conference of the anti-abortion group Heartbeat International. Even though the Supreme Court’s draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade hadn’t yet been leaked, there was palpable excitement about the growing political momentum behind their cause. They needed only to point to the conservative majority in the Supreme […]

The Disinformation Campaign Behind a Top Pregnancy Website

If you happen to be a pregnant person with questions—say, about the foods you should avoid, how big your developing fetus is, or when your morning sickness might finally abate—your online research may lead you to the cheerful and informative website of the American Pregnancy Association. In addition to providing answers to expectant parents, the […]

How Wellness Influencers Became Cheerleaders for Putin’s War

Until a few weeks ago, the Instagram influencer Kimberly Lynn had rarely dabbled in international affairs. With her long fuchsia and magenta dyed hair pulled up into a bun, she regularly updated her 20,000 followers about her home renovations, natural cleaning products, and why she chose to have her fourth baby at home. In her […]

Florida Advised Against Covid Vaccines for Kids. This Pediatrician Is Appalled.

On Monday, Florida surgeon general Joseph Ladapo announced that the state would no longer recommend Covid vaccines for healthy children. This change in guidance bucks recommendations from practically every public health agency, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a statement, Lisa Gwynn, the president of the state’s American Academy of Pediatrics chapter […]

Pro-Putin Disinformation on Ukraine Is Thriving in Online Anti-Vax Groups

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen how conspiracy theories can overlap and collide. I’ve documented how anti-vaccine groups embraced QAnon disinformation about liberal elites conspiring to unseat Trump, and how white nationalists find willing audiences for their racist ideology in anti-mask groups. Over the last week, a new disinformation hybrid has appeared, as online […]

Anti-Vaxxers Have a New Obsession: Keeping Your Kids From Seeing Their Doctors

This week, activists in anti-science groups that I monitor are sharing memes suggesting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its developmental milestones for babies and toddlers to account for the delays caused by caregivers wearing masks. “Spoiler alert: They changed the milestones so they can keep pushing the products that caused them,” […]