A protester with a flare poses holding a sign calling for people to "wake up" during a "World Wide Rally For Freedom" protest on March 20, 2021 in London, England.(Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.Amazon is selling a book version of “Plandemic,” one of the most viral pieces of COVID-19 disinformation, in the science section of its online store. Last year, the video of “Plandemic” became a viral sensation when millions of people shared the disinformation-filled “documentary” on social media sites.
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The video was quickly banned on all major platforms, and director Mikki Willis called it the “most banned documentary of all time.”But now Willis is back with a book, also called “Plandemic,” and even though his so-called documentary has been widely debunked and criticized for spreading dangerous conspiracy theories that could endanger lives, Amazon has listed the book in the “Basic Science” category of its “Medical Books” section.The book is currently available for pre-order for $25 and will be released on August 17.
The book bills itself as a “behind-the-scenes account” about the making of “Plandemic” and its sequel, “Plandemic: Indoctornation.” But rather than just recounting the story of how the videos were made, Willis also promises to repeat the lies he spread in his films last year, and claims the book will be “an exposé of the truth behind the origins of COVID-19; an alarming examination of individuals, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates.”Adding to its disinformation credentials is an endorsement on the book’s Amazon page from Joseph Mercola, a major funder of the anti-vax movement who has made millions from selling alternative health supplements online. Mercola has been named as one of the “disinformation dozen” that disinformation researchers have been calling social networks to remove from their platforms
Despite the fact the book is repeating the lies contained in the widely debunked videos, Amazon is allowing it to advertise itself as a serious science book.This is “replicating the strategy that anti-vaccine grifters have used for years,” Renee DiResta, a disinformation researcher at Stanford Internet Observatory, tweeted.Since the beginning of the pandemic, Amazon has removed some books spreading COVID-19 disinformation, but a survey conducted by researchers at the University of Washington in January found that when searching for terms linked to vaccines, results containing misinformation were returned more than 10% of the time. DiResta also points out that the book is listed among the most popular in the immunology and virology categories on Amazon, along with works from other noted anti-vax conspiracy theorists like Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Amazon did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment. The first installment of “Plandemic” landed in early May 2020, when large parts of the U.S. were under lockdown orders. It quickly gained a large audience on social media before being banned.
The video features Judy Mikovits, a researcher known for her discredited work on chronic fatigue syndrome. Mikovits makes multiple false and misleading claims about the dangers and spread of COVID-19.In August, Willis released a 75-minute video, called “Plandemic: Indoctornation” which said the media was covering up the origins of COVID-19, claiming without evidence that the virus was man-made and released intentionally.Willis at the time sought to drum up attention for his sequel by calling his original video “the most banned documentary of all time.” But even the filmmaker’s claims that “Plandemic” has been “100% censored” are bogus.By the time it was banned from sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for posing an imminent danger to those who watched it, it had racked up over 8 million views according to data collected by the New York Times.Since then the video continues to thrive on alternative video-sharing platforms like Rumble and BitChute. Searching for “Plandemic” on BitChute, for example, returns over 10,000 results, and a number of the entries have several million views.