You conspiracy theory hokum pervading social media wasnâ€™t bad enough, Roku has been hosting content thatâ€™s promoting misinformation about vaccines, autism, and the current covid-19 pandemic.
Editor’s Note:Â Roku is not currently available in Australia.
Three channels that can be downloaded to Roku devices through the platformâ€™s Channel Store â€” Peeps TV, Pride Outdoor Network, and Sabbath School TV â€” appear to be spreading misinformation or falsehoods about important health topics. Peeps TV, for example, can be found under Rokuâ€™s â€œeducationalâ€ tag and appears to be created by the makers of notorious anti-vaccine â€œdocumentaryâ€ Vaxxed, which was directed by discredited former physician Andrew Wakefield.
â€œAfter releasing VAXXED: FROM COVER-UP TO CATASTROPHE in the spring of 2016, we toured America and other parts of the world recording parentsâ€™ tragic accounts of their childrenâ€™s vaccine injury and death,â€ reads a description on a seemingly abandoned Peeps TV website. â€œAfter amassing an amazing library of stories, we realised that we needed a platform to host these brave peopleâ€™s tales. This is how Peeps TV was born.â€
If there was any question about whether Peeps TV has stayed true to its anti-vaccination roots, the channel currently features numerous interviews with prominent anti-vax conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. which are enthusiastically promoted on the channelâ€™s social media pages. The series, called Truth With Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., includes episodes offering â€œinfo and liesâ€ about the HPV vaccine Gardasil, commentary on the so-described â€œcovid-19 mask debate,â€ and Kennedyâ€™s hot takes on hydroxychloroquine (the malaria drug that was the subject of a controversial, heavily criticised covid-19 study).
In Peeps TVâ€™s premium section, viewers can rent the titles Vaxxed,Â Vaxxed II, and Man Made Epidemic, which describes itself as â€œa worldwide journey to uncover the truth about the autism epidemic and whether vaccines have a role to play.â€ The channel also hosts a series called The Wild Doc, which deals in such galaxy-brain takes as the alleged link between vaccine-induced pneumonia and covid-19 and the pandemic being the opportunity â€œthe medi-sin system needed to manipulate the masses with fear.â€ (Gizmodo has chosen not to link to this content so as not to promote these claims.)
Meanwhile, a channel evidently aimed at the patriotic sportsman called Pride Outdoor Network offers covid-19 conspiracy theory content, including American Frontline Doctors â€” which appears to be a re-upload of the widely debunkedÂ Americaâ€™s Frontline Doctors video â€” and Plandemic, the viral video pulled by YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook earlier this year for spreading covid-19 misinformation. A third Roku channel, Sabbath School TV, also hosts Plandemic.
When asked for comment on Peeps TV, a Roku representative told Gizmodo that they had forwarded our inquiry for review. We will update this story if and when we hear back. Rokuâ€™s distribution agreement, however, appears to bar content that contains â€œfalse, irrelevant or misleading informationâ€ under its Content and Application Metadata Requirements.
While we have yet to learn how this content came to live on Rokuâ€™s Channel Store, itâ€™s more than a bit concerning that RFK Jr. can host his own goddamn series about vaccines without so much as a disclaimer.
Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.