Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.
Facebook has stated that it is committed to fighting coronavirus misinformation by removing content that promotes bogus preventatives and cures. But Media Matters has found ten businesses that are using the platform to peddle products that can supposedly, among other things, "protect" against the coronavirus, "prevent" it, or "kill" it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that "there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus." The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission have been sending warning letters to companies that promote their products as being able to treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19.
Recent reports have documented problems with coronavirus misinformation spreading on Facebook, including posts spouting COVID-19 conspiracy theories and bogus treatments or cures. Facebook has said that it's committed to removing "content with false claims or conspiracy theories" and also "claims related to false cures or prevention methods":
We will also start to remove content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them. We are doing this as an extension of our existing policies to remove content that could cause physical harm. We're focusing on claims that are designed to discourage treatment or taking appropriate precautions. This includes claims related to false cures or prevention methods — like drinking bleach cures the coronavirus — or claims that create confusion about health resources that are available. We will also block or restrict hashtags used to spread misinformation on Instagram, and are conducting proactive sweeps to find and remove as much of this content as we can.
The company's efforts certainly aren't complete. There are still numerous businesses on Facebook that are promoting false claims regarding various products.
- Gabriel Cousens and the Tree of Life Center US
- Live Longer Labs
- Mission Falls Silver
- SunForce Health & Organics
- Zynergia Health and Wellness
AlkaViva is a Nevada-based company that sells alkaline water, which has a higher pH level than regular water. The New York Times wrote in 2018 that "there's no evidence that water marketed as alkaline is better for your health than tap water."
AlkaViva's Facebook page has claimed that sipping water "washes the virus into your stomach where it will meet a violent acidic end."
Cymbiotika is a California-based supplement company that claims to be "leading a nutritional revolution." Its Facebook page, which has over 285,000 followers, advertises its brand of colloidal silver with the hashtag "coronavirus" and with claims that it is a "potent mineral antibiotic that neutralizes viruses" and a "weapon for your immune system."
Gabriel Cousens and the Tree of Life Center US
Gabriel Cousens is an author who oversees the Arizona-based company Tree of Life Center US and sells numerous "holistic health products" through that business. He pushes false medical information, including about vaccines and the false connection between 5G and the coronavirus.
Cousens uses his verified Facebook page, which has over 64,000 followers, to tell people about his "COVID-19 Protection Protocol," which includes the use of nano silver. Silver is not a preventative, treatment, or cure for the coronavirus. People who click on Cousens' Facebook links are told about ways to "protect and enhance our natural immunity" and are also given links to buy supplements through his Tree of Life Center-run store.
HoneyColony is a California-based company that runs an online magazine and store. Media Matters previously reported that it's been selling colloidal silver as a coronavirus preventative. Its Facebook page has specifically promoted colloidal silver by writing that "if you want a direct antiviral effect, both chelated silver and colloidal silver can target a wide range of viruses" and then promoted an article on its site listing silver as a way to "control and prevent viral infections from taking hold, coronavirus included."
JWLabs is an Illinois-based company which sells rife machines, which proponents falsely claim can cure diseases like cancer by emitting certain electromagnetic frequencies. Rife machines are not backed by science and the federal government has previously gone after proponents of the machines for making false claims.
JWLabs' Facebook page promoted a post on its website which claimed that people should respond to the coronavirus by supporting their immune system and "for those of you who have a Rife machine, USE IT! Even a few short sessions each week will help to keep your microbia level down and your immune system up to par." The company also responded to a Facebook comment about "which frequency sets" the company recommends to protect "against infection" by writing: "If you have not yet used the machine begin with track two of General Alignment as indicated in your start-up material."
Live Longer Labs' C60Complete
Live Longer Labs is a Colorado-based company which sells a line of Carbon 60 products. Media Matters previously reported on the company's efforts to promote its supplements as a coronavirus defense. Its Facebook page features its products next to the hashtags "coronavirus" and "viraldefense."
Mission Falls Silver
Mission Falls Silver is a Canadian colloidal silver company that ships its products there and to the United States. Its Facebook page has responded to coronavirus news by advertising its silver as a way "to help kill the virus inside and outside your body before you get sick" and a something to "help protect you."
Silverlab is a South African company which claims to be "one of the world's leading manufacturers of high quality ionised colloidal silver." Its Facebook page, which has over 32,000 followers, states that "because colloidal silver is a broad-spectrum antivirus, that also strengthens the immune system, it can potentially prevent or help to treat coronavirus infection." It also issued a message telling people that its product "can be used both preventatively and therapeutically" in response to COVID-19.
SunForce Health & Organics
SunForce Health & Organics, which has mailing addresses in Washington state and Canada, sells colloidal silver. Its Facebook page markets its silver by claiming that it can help "slow the spread of Covid-19" and writing, "By now you've heard that prevention is better than cure. … Make this a daily protocol."
Zynergia Health and Wellness
Zynergia Health and Wellness is a Philippines-based company which sells supplements such as colloidal silver internationally, including in the United States. The company's Facebook page, which has over 20,000 followers, claimed its colloidal silver product can be used "as a shield against the COVID-19 virus."
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