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Left-Wing Activist Group Targets Blogging Site For Not Censoring ‘Anti-Vaxxers’

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  • The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a British-based non-profit linked to the country’s left-wing Labour Party, issued a report Thursday analyzing the presence of “anti-vaxxers” on Substack, and called for the company to boot the vaccine skeptics off its platform.
  • “They could just say no. This isn’t about freedom; this is about profiting from lies,” CCDH CEO Imran Ahmed told The Guardian. “Substack should immediately stop profiting from medical misinformation that can seriously harm readers.”
  • CCDH has previously targeted conservative news and commentary sites, campaigning to demonetize Breitbart and The Federalist in June 2020 over articles related to the Black Lives Matter protests and riots following the killing of George Floyd.
  • The group launched a campaign against “climate misinformation” in November 2021, publishing a study identifying “super polluters” of misleading climate change claims on social media, and listed conservative news sites including Breitbart, the Daily Wire and Newsmax as chief contributors to climate misinformation.

A non-profit organization that previously pushed to censor conservative publications is targeting blogging platform Substack for allowing commentators opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine to use its service.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a British-based non-profit linked to the country’s left-wing Labour Party, issued a report Thursday analyzing the presence of “anti-vaxxers” on Substack, and called for the company to boot the vaccine skeptics off its platform.

“Substack should immediately stop profiting from medical misinformation that can seriously harm readers,” Imran Ahmed, CCDH CEO, told The Washington Post, who wrote an article featuring the CCDH report.

The study focuses on Substack authors including Joesph Mercola and former New York Times writer Alex Berenson, and examines claims deemed by false by health authorities such as the assertion that more children have died from the COVID-19 vaccine than from the virus itself, or that mRNA vaccines have contributed to the spread of COVID-19.

Berenson and Mercola did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

CCDH also estimates how much the vaccine skeptics are profiting from their newsletters, pegging each at around $2.2 million a year. The report includes a petition to “tell Substack to stop helping anti-vaxxers profit off misinformation.”

Ahmed argued that Substack was under “no obligation” to provide a platform for anti-vaccine activists.

“They could just say no. This isn’t about freedom; this is about profiting from lies,” Ahmed told The Guardian, who also wrote an article featuring CCDH’s research. “Substack should immediately stop profiting from medical misinformation that can seriously harm readers.”

Journalist Alex Berenson discusses WA state's plan to offer free cannabis for those getting the COVID-19 vaccine, from "Fox & Friends," June 9, 2021. Fox News screenshot

Journalist Alex Berenson discusses WA state’s plan to offer free cannabis for those getting the COVID-19 vaccine, from “Fox & Friends,” June 9, 2021. (Fox News/Screenshot)

Substack responded to criticism of its policy to allow “anti-vaxxers” on its platform in a blog post Wednesday co-authored by CEO Chris Best.

“The more that powerful institutions attempt to control what can and cannot be said in public, the more people there will be who are ready to create alternative narratives about what’s ‘true,’ spurred by a belief that there’s a conspiracy to suppress important information,” Best wrote.

“People start to fixate on branding their opponents as peddlers of dangerous misinformation, threats to democracy, terrorists, and charlatans. In a frenzy to kill all the monsters, we keep creating more monsters – and then feeding them,” he added.

CCDH has previously targeted conservative news and commentary sites, campaigning to demonetize Breitbart and The Federalist in June 2020 over articles related to the Black Lives Matter protests and riots following the killing of George Floyd.

Ahmed celebrated an incorrect NBC News story reporting that Google had demonetized The Federalist, calling it CCDH’s “biggest win ever.”

CCDH also succeeded in demonetizing finance site ZeroHedge “over policy violations found in the comments section of stories about recent Black Lives Matter protests.”

The group launched a campaign against “climate misinformation” in November 2021, publishing a study identifying “super polluters” of misleading climate change claims on social media, and listed conservative news sites including Breitbart, the Daily Wire, and Newsmax as chief contributors to climate misinformation.

CCDH called on Google to demonetize climate misinformation, with Ahmed saying that “big tech is once again on the wrong side of science, truth and human progress.”

The study was dismissed by Facebook, who argued it “uses a flawed methodology designed to mislead people about the scale of climate misinformation on Facebook”.

CCDH did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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