Along with the continuous rise in the new Coronavirus cases across the globe, especially in the US, conspiracy theories and hoaxes about the COVID-19 have surged on social media. Recently a 25-minute video called "Plandemic" became viral on online platforms.
The video features controversial researcher Judy Mikovits and includes topics like federal government cover-up, profiteering over the deadly virus and persecution of people attempting to expose the truth of Coronavirus crisis.
The video claims that the Coronavirus pandemic was created to make profits off vaccines and suggests that sheltering in place harms consumers' immune systems. It also claims that masks can make people sicker.
'Plandemic Movie' video
The video has been shared widely across YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and IAC-owned Vimeo, while some netizens continue to share clips from the video on Twitter. However, social media platforms have been trying to remove the video for violating their guidelines.
A Facebook user claimed to be one of the filmmakers behind the film shared the video which had received more than 1.7 million views as of Thursday and been shared more than 140,000 times. The user also asks people to download the video and share on their other platforms. As per MIT Technology Review one video posted on YouTube received more than one million views before it was removed.
A Facebook spokesperson told CNBC that the viral video "is eligible for fact-checkers to review and rate." He also added that "Suggesting that wearing a mask can make you sick could lead to imminent harm, so we're removing the video."
Who is Judy Mikovits?
This viral video claims to be an excerpt of a larger documentary to be released this summer. It also contains claims about the origins of the virus and how it spreads. The video is propagating the wild claims of long-ago discredited researcher Judy Mikovits.
The controversial researcher published a paper in the journal Science in 2009 that tied chronic fatigue syndrome to a retrovirus called XMRV to offer potential hope for future treatment to patients. As per Chicago Tribune the scientist without showing any evidence started making links between XMRV and other disorders like autism.
Reports also revealed that when other scientists tried following Mikovits' study and replicate the same result, they failed to do so and later it was found that her study result was caused by lab contamination. At that time, she rejected all the allegations and said, "Some are not trying in completely good faith."
Another published study by the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease in Nevada, her employer, failed to find evidence of XMRV in the blood of chronic fatigue syndrome patients and then the institution fired Mikovits in 2011. She also got arrested in the same year and was charged in Nevada with two felonies stemming from accusations that she wrongfully stole lab notebooks as well as a computer and proprietary data from her former employer.