Over the past decade, Dr. Mercola has built a vast operation to push natural cures for health, spread anti-vaccination content and benefit from it all, said researchers who have studied his network. In 2017, hey submitted to affidavit claiming that his net worth was “over $ 100 million”.
And instead of directly stating online that vaccines don’t work, Dr. Mercola’s publications often ask pointed questions about their safety and discuss studies that other doctors have disproved. Facebook and Twitter have allowed some of their posts to remain with cautionary labels, and companies have struggled to create rules to remove nuanced posts.
“Social media has given him a new life, which he skillfully and mercilessly exploits to captivate people,” said Imran Ahmed, director of the Center for Combating Digital Hate, which studies disinformation and hate speech. His “Misinformation Dozen” report has been cited in Congressional hearings and by the White House.
In an email, Dr. Mercola said it was “quite peculiar for me to be named the number one super spreader of misinformation.” Some of his Facebook posts only liked hundreds of people, he said, so he didn’t understand “how the relatively small amount of shares could cause such a calamity in Biden’s multi-million dollar vaccination campaign.”
The efforts against him are political, Dr. Mercola added, and accused the White House of “illegal censorship by colluding with social media companies.”
He did not address whether his claims about the coronavirus were factual. “I am the lead author of a peer-reviewed publication on Vitamin D and Covid-19 risk and I have every right to inform the public by sharing my medical research,” he said. He did not identify the publication and The Times could not verify his claim.
Originally from Chicago, Dr. Mercola started a small private practice in 1985 in Schaumburg, Ill. In the 1990s, it began switch to natural medicine for health and opened his main website, Mercola.com, to share his treatments, cures, and tips. The site urges people to “take control of their health.”