The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens pushes inaccurate and misleading claims about the COVID-19 vaccine on her Instagram and Twitter accounts. Owens, who has a large following on both platforms, regularly violates these platforms’ guidelines on spreading vaccine misinformation. Owens incorrectly compares mortality rates to vaccine efficacy rates, suggests that the COVID-19 vaccine will be forced upon Americans, and baselessly asserts that the vaccine is “poison” and similar to decades-old vaccine experiments.
Owens has a well-documented track record as a COVID-19 conspiracy theorist. Throughout the pandemic, she has fearmongered and lied to her social media audience about COVID-19 vaccinations while touting anti-vaccination spokespeople and attacking the HPV vaccine.
Owens’ continued misinformation on major social media platforms comes at a time in which it is critical for Americans to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in order to end the pandemic. Currently, conservatives are among the most vaccine-hesitant, posing an obstacle to herd immunity.
A video posted to Owens’ Instagram account on November 30, 2020, which now has over 2 million views, is riddled with anti-vaccination rhetoric meant to instill skepticism. During the video, Owens compares the survival rate of COVID-19 to the efficacy rate of the vaccine, claiming that “you can get the virus and you have a 99% chance you’re going to survive, or you can get the vaccine,” which has a “94% effective rate.” In reality, mortality and efficacy rates are two different scientific measurements and cannot be compared.
In the same video, Owens claims those interested in receiving the vaccine are suspending their “critical thinking,” alleges she “didn’t see a big spell” of “people getting sick” after Trump rallies (they did), and sarcastically suggests that the coronavirus may not be real because “90-year-olds never died before coronavirus.”
In another video posted to her Instagram, with over 1 million views, Owens declares that she “used to be a super ignorant pro-vaxxer” and discusses her experience with the Gardasil HPV vaccine. The Gardasil vaccine is meant to stop the spread of HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that can lead to genital warts and certain types of cancer if left untreated.
Owens suggests that because only 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, “those numbers just don’t justify everyone getting a vaccine.” (The actual number is 14,480). Owens also fails to mention the fact that HPV more commonly causes genital warts without proper vaccination.
Later in the same video, Owens expresses her enthusiasm for moms like Jenny McCarthy and Kristin Cavallari, both prominent anti-vaccination celebrities.
Her harangue continues as she falsely claims that the government is “essentially trying to implement concepts of forced vaccinations” and that the inoculations are “going to have to be mandatory.” These claims have been debunked.
Owens is violating Instagram's Terms of Service which prohibits “content calling to action, advocating, or promoting that others not get the COVID-19 vaccine.” Her posts also violate Instagram’s Terms of Service which does not allow “claims that building immunity by getting COVID-19 is safer than getting the vaccine” and “claims that downplay the severity of COVID-19.”
In April 2020, Owens tweeted, “This is your daily reminder that under no circumstances will I be getting any #coronavirus vaccine that becomes available. Ever. No matter what.”
Owens is violating Twitter’s Terms of Service on vaccine misinformation which states the platform will not allow “false claims that COVID-19 is not real or not serious, and therefore that vaccinations are unnecessary,” and “statements about vaccines that invoke a deliberate conspiracy.”
Owens has maintained her position as an anti-vaxxer for an entire year, and social media platforms have paid little or no attention to it. Her content consistently violates the vaccine misinformation guidelines on both Twitter and Instagram. If these sites are serious about stopping harmful anti-vaccination rhetoric from spreading on their platforms, they must be more proactive in moderating content on this sensitive issue.