What the Fuck, Roku?

Image: Gizmodo
Image: Gizmodo

You conspiracy theory hokum pervading social media wasn’t bad enough, Roku has been hosting content that’s promoting misinformation about vaccines, autism, and the current covid-19 pandemic.

Editor’s Note: Roku is not currently available in Australia.

Three channels that can be downloaded to Roku devices through the platform’s Channel Store — Peeps TV, Pride Outdoor Network, and Sabbath School TV — appear to be spreading misinformation or falsehoods about important health topics. Peeps TV, for example, can be found under Roku’s “educational” tag and appears to be created by the makers of notorious anti-vaccine “documentary” Vaxxed, which was directed by discredited former physician Andrew Wakefield.

“After releasing VAXXED: FROM COVER-UP TO CATASTROPHE in the spring of 2016, we toured America and other parts of the world recording parents’ tragic accounts of their children’s vaccine injury and death,” reads a description on a seemingly abandoned Peeps TV website. “After amassing an amazing library of stories, we realised that we needed a platform to host these brave people’s tales. This is how Peeps TV was born.”

Photo: Gizmodo

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 channel’s social media pages. The series, called Truth With Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., includes episodes offering “info and lies” about the HPV vaccine Gardasil, commentary on the so-described “covid-19 mask debate,” and Kennedy’s hot takes on hydroxychloroquine (the malaria drug that was the subject of a controversial, heavily criticised covid-19 study).

In Peeps TV’s premium section, viewers can rent the titles Vaxxed, Vaxxed II, and Man Made Epidemic, which describes itself as “a worldwide journey to uncover the truth about the autism epidemic and whether vaccines have a role to play.” 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 “the medi-sin system needed to manipulate the masses with fear.” (Gizmodo has chosen not to link to this content so as not to promote these claims.)

Photo: Gizmodo

Meanwhile, a channel evidently aimed at the patriotic sportsman called Pride Outdoor Network offers covid-19 conspiracy theory content, including American Frontline Doctors — which appears to be a re-upload of the widely debunked America’s Frontline Doctors video — 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. Roku’s distribution agreement, however, appears to bar content that contains “false, irrelevant or misleading information” under its Content and Application Metadata Requirements.

While we have yet to learn how this content came to live on Roku’s Channel Store, it’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.