Amazon Is Helping People Donate Money To Anti-Vaxxers

Chaiyabin / Shutterstock / IFLScience

James Felton 06 Mar 2019, 12:34

Amazon has come under fire lately for spreading anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. Until a few days ago, it hosted several anti-vax documentaries on its video site Amazon Prime Video, including such classics as Shoot 'Em Up: The Truth About Vaccines, We Don't Vaccinate!, and Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe.

These documentaries, which have finally been removed from the platform, sat on Amazon Prime promoting such myths as 'vaccines cause autism' and falsely linking ADHD, rheumatism, and cancer to vaccines.

The company also came under fire from the chair of the House Intelligence Committee for recommending anti-vax books, including those by thoroughly discredited former physician Andrew Wakefield, who had his medical license revoked after he was found to have falsified data in a study that falsely linked vaccines to autism.

Now it transpires that Amazon has been helping to fund anti-vax charities through its charity arm Amazon Smile, according to a Guardian report.

Amazon Smile allows customers to donate 0.5 percent of their purchases to a charity of their choice. So far, so good. Unfortunately, amongst the organizations that customers can select are several anti-vaccination organizations and pressure groups, some of which actively promote the idea that vaccines are dangerous to children, and that vaccines cause autism. (Spoiler alert: Study after study has shown they do not.)

Organizations that The Guardian found people could donate to on Amazon Smile include:

National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC)

NVIC

An organization that supports false claims that there is evidence that vaccines cause autism and encourages people not to vaccinate, sometimes through the medium of quite offensive posters.

Michigan for Vaccine Choice

Michigan for Vaccine Choice

An organization that pushes for opt-outs from vaccines in Michigan, which hosts scaremongering content such as the above on its website.

Learn the Risk

This is an organization that promoted the false information that a senator died after getting a flu shot (he actually died from complications relating to acute promyelocytic leukemia). When they aren't doing this they can be found on Twitter linking vaccines to autism, despite, to reiterate, there being no link.

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Age of Autism

As you can guess from the title, this is not a balanced look at the science of vaccines. The "science" section of their website contains unscientific claims that autism is caused by "excessive vaccinations". On the right-hand side of this nonsense, they display a link titled "Support Autism Age. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, Amazon donates."

Physicians for Informed Consent

A group that promotes, brace yourself, the idea that the MMR vaccine is not safer than measles (which recently killed 238 people in the Philippines, just FYI).

Physicians for Informed Consent

It's not known how much has been donated to these and several other smaller organizations through Amazon Smile. However, it's pretty alarming that Amazon is making it easy for citizens to fund organizations that are actively spreading vaccine misinformation, just as preventable diseases such as measles are (completely unnecessarily) on the rise once more.

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