DemLabs blog

Pandemic profiteers exploit COVID fears with misinfo to make money

Who are the profiteers making money from COVID disinformation? How do Facebook and YouTube help the 'Disinformation Dozen'? Who funds them?

"The Anti-Vaxx Industry boasts over $35 million in annual revenues while driving an estimated $1.1 billion in advertising dollars to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. according to the CCDH Report.

We designed this relationship map to make it easier to understand the complex web of relations between the profiteers, their investors and social media firms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Pandemic profiteers make money from spreading COVID disinformation


"Anti-vaxxers examined by CCDH are responsible for up to 70% of anti-vaccine content on Facebook. Some leading anti-vaxxers earn six figure salaries leading organizations that question the safety of vaccines.

Anti-vaxxers have received more than $1.5 million in federal loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) such as Joseph Mercola, whose business got $617,000.

Del Bigtree hosts The Highwire, a slick, anti-vaccine show that was broadcast live to over 600,000 followers until it was deplatformed from Facebook and YouTube following reports he had advised viewers to intentionally contract COVID." - CCDH

Relationship maps

Sometimes it is hard to see how different people and groups are connected. A relationship map reveals these connections and makes it easier to see patterns that are easily missed. Tracking the flow of money is also clearer. This relationship map was created with the free Kumu map using data primarily from the CCDH report. The map is interactive and you can click on any person or organization or connection to learn more about it. Relationship maps can also be updated at any time with new information.

The excellent CCDH report is 71 pages long and has 270 citations. That is a lot for the average user. A relationship map is easily skimmed on a phone or laptop and lets the reader dig into the area they are interested in. It is also easily shared with this link. Or it can be freely embedded in a website with this code:

< iframe src="" width="1024" height="576" frameborder="0"></iframe>

Click on a person or group on a relationship map to learn more.

CCDH recommendations

"CCDH exposes the network of businesses, nonprofits, political action committees, affiliate schemes and social media marketing empires that form the AntiVaxx Industry. While small businesses struggled through the pandemic, these enterprises reaped at least $1.5 million in PPP loans from the US government. From books on the latest ‘Great Reset’ conspiracy to propaganda films targeting the vaccine hesitant, we break down how anti-vaxxers fund their fight against science and how they specifically shifted their strategies to profit during the pandemic.

Governments need to set up new bodies to look at how bad faith actors use the Internet to cause harm and convene non-governmental bodies that can respond effectively. CCDH’s work on anti-vaxxers, for example, has forced change at once-reluctant social media platforms and led to anti-vaxxers removing their propaganda to avoid being banned. Social media’s failure to act in the pandemic has cost us lives, government’s failure to act in the pandemic’s wake could cost us our society. - Imran Ahmed CEO, CCDH


Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) 
CCDH Report on Pandemic Profiteers. This relationship map visually displays their key findings and supplemented with other news reports.
First Draft - Resources for Debunking COVID disinformation 

TakeAway: Make it easy to see how people are spreading COVID disinformation to make money and hold the platforms and their investors accountable. When your corporate website says "Do the right thing", you should do so - or change your website.


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DemLabs applies innovative technology and storytelling tools in service of democratic values. It lowers the barrier of funding for worthy candidates and non-profits by applying existing free/affordable solutions.