Update (4/16/21, 4:30 p.m.): Following the publication of this article, an Eventbrite spokesperson told Media Matters, “We prohibit any events, content, or creators that share or promote potentially harmful misinformation. We have notified the organizers that the events have been removed from our platform.” The America’s Frontline Doctors account page has also been removed from Eventbrite.
The event management and ticketing website Eventbrite is profiting from hosting event pages for America’s Frontline Doctors, a group known for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus. Yet the platform’s community guidelines prohibit “harmful misinformation.”
The Eventbrite RSVP pages set up and promoted by America’s Frontline Doctors are for screenings in three Texas movie theaters of a film that the group claims exposes “the censored science of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The event pages also promise that members of the group will be alongside the film’s director and producer for a question-and-answer session. The RSVP pages have been promoted in Texas anti-mask and anti-vax Facebook groups.
Members of America’s Frontline Doctors have repeatedly spread misinformation about the coronavirus, and the group was behind a viral video last summer that attacked both mask wearing and studies that cast doubt on the use of antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus.
The group's head, Simone Gold -- who has also promoted the RSVP pages on Twitter -- has on multiple occasions made false or erroneous claims about coronavirus vaccines, such as falsely saying they can cause infertility or yield a positive test for the virus, misleadingly claiming they are “experimental,” and arguing that young people should not get them. Gold has also wrongly suggested that masks are ineffective against the virus and urged people not to wear them, and helped spread a hashtag calling for Dr. Anthony Fauci’s firing (which had its origins among supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory). In addition, Gold was arrested for participating in the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol.
According to Eventbrite’s community guidelines, the platform prohibits content that “promotes potentially harmful misinformation or intentionally deceptive disinformation.” Nevertheless, these RSVP pages remain on the platform, where they sell tickets for the events; one even says it’s sold out. That means both America’s Frontline Doctors and Eventbrite itself -- which takes a cut of ticket sales -- are making money from these events promoting misinformation about the coronavirus.
This is not the first time Eventbrite has struggled to handle misinformation on its platform. In 2019, the platform hosted an RSVP page for a QAnon rally in Washington, D.C. Eventbrite took down the event and banned QAnon events on the platform only after Media Matters reported on the situation.