Lee Harpin – The JC.com May 1, 2020
Antisemitic conspiracy theories circulated by former sports presenter David Icke – including a claim that Jewish cultists or “Sabbatian Frankists” are responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic – have been viewed over 30 million times on social media, a new report has revealed.
Millions have also watched Mr Icke explain how Bill Gates and “the Rothschilds” form part of that cult, and how 5G networks and vaccines have made people more vulnerable to the disease.
Research for the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) suggests the conspiracy theorist’s audience of over two million followers could be worth up to £20 million in annual revenue, primarily generated by advertisers.
His YouTube videos generate ad revenue both from Google Ads and from his sponsor, an investment firm seeking to exploit the paranoia of Mr Icke’s followers.
The CCDH has called on social media company’s to remove content by Mr Icke.
On Friday, a letter supporting CCDH’s call signed by the co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism – Andrew Percy and Cat McKinnell – and also by by Damian Collins, former chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, was sent to the heads of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon.
The Community Security Trust also signed the letter calling for Mr Icke’s “hateful and dangerous conspiracy theories to be removed from mainstream social media platforms.”
Popular medics including Dr Dawn Harper and Embarrassing Bodies star Dr Christian Jessen backed the call by CCDH for social media companies to remove Mr Icke’s accounts from their platforms.
The CCDH report highlights Mr Icke’s long history of using his social media platforms to promote his racism.
In addition to accusing Jews of helping to plan the coronavirus outbreak, he has previously accused them of secretly being behind antisemitic attacks on their own communities and suggested that Adolf Hitler was Jewish and an agent of Zionism – both in books sold on Amazon and most recently in a video uploaded to YouTube in March of this year.
He has also used Twitter to blame migrants for a “rape epidemic” and to spread fake claims that Germany was moving to legalise rape by Muslim men.
Polling released last week showed that, despite being largely shunned by the traditional media for the past 30 years, Mr Icke is known to 51% of Brits, with one in every eight members of the population having viewed one of his videos or read his books.
His website is in the 1,000 most popular in the UK and much of its traffic is directed from Twitter and Facebook.
Following the controversial broadcasting by LondonLive of an interview with David Icke last month, YouTube and Facebook removed the video from their platform.
However, the CCDH report shows how acting in this piecemeal fashion can make the situation worse – leaving his accounts active allowed Icke to launch a recruitment drive off the back of the move, leading to a further expansion of his following.
Meanwhile, YouTube continued to recommend Mr Icke’s videos to its users.
Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which co-ordinated the letter and published the report into Mr Icke, said: “While people around the world make enormous sacrifices to stall this pandemic, social media firms are instead profiting from the proliferation of misinformation on their platforms.
“Misinformation puts all of our lives at risk by encouraging the public not to comply with clinical guidance.
“It’s time to stop giving valuable airtime on their platform to the most dangerous voices and instead join with the rest of us in trying to contain this lethal pandemic. The reckless endangerment of public safety by greedy social media firms must stop.
“Facebook must now look at the vast network of pages and groups in which Icke’s content is shared.”
Although Facebook has removed his account, a second page – “David Icke – Headlines” – remains.