Facebook blocks users from linking to new Plandemic hoax video
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Social media sites are trying to stop the spread of Plandemic: Indoctornation, a follow-up to the Plandemic conspiracy video about the novel coronavirus. As NBC News reporter Brandy Zadrozny noted, Facebook blocks users from reposting a link to the new video, which was uploaded to an external site earlier today. Twitter doesn’t block the video link, but it sends users who click it to a warning screen, saying that the link is “potentially spammy or unsafe.”
Twitter confirmed to The Verge that it’s warning people rather than blocking the link; the company will evaluate any short clips that are directly uploaded on a case-by-case basis and may remove any that it deems dangerous misinformation. Streaming channel London Real, which posted the video, reported that it was suspended by LinkedIn before its premiere. According to CrowdTangle, London Real’s original post linking to the video has about 53,000 interactions on Facebook. A reposted version of the video can be found on YouTube, but it currently has under 200 views.
Initially posted in May, the 26-minute Plandemic documentary was a hit on social media and promoted a number of false claims about the coronavirus pandemic, including the (completely incorrect) assertion that wearing a mask can “activate” the coronavirus. Companies initially hesitated to remove it, and it racked up millions of views and a created high online profile for its star, discredited researcher Judy Mikovits.
As described in a thread by New York Times reporter Davey Alba, Plandemic: Indoctornation expands on the themes of the first film, claiming that a shadowy conspiracy, including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is behind the coronavirus pandemic.
A New York Times analysis determined that Plandemic was promoted heavily by adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory — which claims that the Trump administration is fighting a secret war against celebrity satanist pedophiles — as well as the anti-pandemic-mitigation “reopen” movement and individuals like celebrity doctor Christiane Northrup. It’s not clear how much of it was driven by social media recommendation systems, which are frequently blamed for spreading misinformation. However, Facebook initially took the milder step of reducing Plandemic’s reach rather than removing it, giving it a greater chance to spread. That doesn’t appear to be happening with Indoctornation.