RealFarmacy is spreading coronavirus misinformation far and wide on Facebook.
By Matt Binder2020-08-20 15:38:14 UTC
As COVID-19 continues to kill people, a new report has identified the leading source of health misinformation on Facebook: RealFarmacy.com.
The non-profit advocacy group Avaaz recently released a report that dives into the vast amount of health misinformation on Facebook.
One especially disturbing stat: health misinformation generated an estimated 3.8 billion views on Facebook in the past year. And that’s just in the U.S., UK, France, Germany, and Italy.
A name that repeatedly appears in the report is RealFarmacy.com, which it calls “one of the biggest health misinformation spreading websites.”
The RealFarmacy website has promoted various homeopathic medicines over the years. Some of its most dangerous recent claims focus on bogus coronavirus treatments and COVID-19 conspiracy theories.
RealFarmacy topped the report’s list of 82 health misinformation websites with the largest reach on Facebook. It generated an estimated 253 million views over the past 12 months.
Top 10 websites by views on Facebook.
The report also found 42 Facebook Pages with massive engagement, which it calls “superspreaders.” While RealFarmacy’s Facebook page ranks at number 7 on the list, its reach is actually much greater.
RealFarmacy.com doesn’t just run the RealFarmacy Facebook page. It also runs pages for The Farmacy, and Grow Food, Not Lawns. Combined, they generate more views than any other health misinformation Page.
Through its website and Facebook Page network, the report estimates that RealFarmacy content has been viewed more than half a billion times over the past year.
The only health misinformation outlet that previously reached this scale is Natural News, according to Avaaz. Unlike RealFarmacy, Natural News is fairly well-known, but has been banned from Facebook.
In contrast, RealFarmacy has pretty much flown under the radar. It has been debunked by NewsGuard, a misinformation flagging tool, and mentioned a few times by news outlets in recent years.
Some of the other sites uncovered by Avaaz “did not appear to have had any focus on health” prior to the coronavirus pandemic. However, RealFarmacy has been around since at least 2013 when its domain name was registered and Facebook page was created.
It’s unclear who is behind the website, as the domain whois info is obscured by WhoisGuard’s privacy service.
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