Anti-Vaxxer Larry Cook Has Weaponized Facebook Ads in War Against Scie…


With more than 50 people infected by a measles outbreak in Washington state, health officials there are working to convince parents to get their children vaccinated.

A thousand miles away, a man named Larry Cook is trying to undermine all that.

Two weeks ago, he launched a GoFundMe campaign, the stated goal of which is to “help parents start to question the safety and efficacy of vaccines which will in turn help them realize why vaccine mandates could be problematic for their children.”

His weapon of choice in this war against established science: Facebook ads.

Cook, according to Facebook’s own tallies, has been the No. 1 anti-vaxxer buying ads on the site since it began tracking campaigns in May, spending $1,776 in the last nine months to boost his posts.

For the latest campaign, Cook boasts that he will be targeting a specific group, namely moms in Washington State, where public health workers are struggling to keep the outbreak from growing.

Cook runs a group called Stop Mandatory Vaccination, which he freely admits is not a nonprofit organization. In fact, its website contains a notice that donations go “directly” to his bank account and funds “may be used to pay [his] personal bills.”

He declined to disclose to The Daily Beast how much of the money does toward his towards personal expenses and how much to anti-vaxxer campaigns.

“I’m a full-time activist,” he said in a phone interview. “I receive donations but its not even remotely enough.”

I don’t need to report any income—we are in a capitalist society and anyone can raise and spend how we want.

Larry Cook

He added: “I’m not a non-profit. I don’t need to report any income—we are in a capitalist society and anyone can raise and spend how we want.”

GoFundMe records show Cook has raised $79,900 for four separate anti-vax messaging campaigns. One of them, which raked in $56,636, was earmarked for the creation of his website and interviews with parents who believe their children were injured by vaccines.

The most recent GoFundMe campaign, aimed at women in Washington state, had collected $7,704 as of this week. A campaign last year based on the outrageous and unsubstantiated claim that the medical community is covering up baby deaths—he actually referred to it as the “slaughter” of children—raised $12,379.

As The Daily Beast’s Pay Dirt reported earlier this week, anti-vaxxer ads have a wide reach. More than 147 promoted posts by seven Facebook accounts were viewed between 1.6 million and 5.2 million times. Just like Cook’s latest campaign, they overwhelmingly targeted women over the age of 25.

Facebook subsequently announced that it is exploring ways to combat the prevalence of anti-vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories on its platform.



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