Anti-Vaxxer Larry Cook has posted Facebook ads on weapons at war against science

With more than 50 people infected with a measles epidemic in the state of Washington, health officials are working to persuade parents to have their children vaccinated.

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

Two weeks ago, he launched a GoFundMe campaign, whose stated goal is to "Helping parents question the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, which in turn will help to understand why vaccine mandates could be problematic for their children."

His favorite weapon in this war against established science: Facebook advertising.

Cook, according to Facebook's stories, was the number 1 of Vaxxer's purchase announcements on the site since he started tracking campaigns in May, spending $ 1,776 over the past nine months to increase his posts.

For the last campaign, Cook says he is turning to a specific group, namely mothers in Washington State, where health workers are struggling to control the epidemic.

Cook runs a group called Stop Mandatory Vaccination, which freely admits is not a non-profit organization. In fact, his website contains a notice that donations go "Directly" on your bank account and funds "can be used to pay [his] personal bills. "

He refused to reveal to The Daily Beast how much money is spent on him for personal expenses and how much for anti vaxxer campaigns.

"I'm a full-time activist," he said in a telephone interview. "I receive donations but it's not even close enough".

"I do not need to report any income: we are in a capitalist society and anyone can collect and spend as we want."

Larry Cook

He added: "I am not a non-profit, I do not need to report any income: we are in a capitalist society and anyone can collect and spend what we want".

The GoFundMe records show that Cook raised $ 79,900 for four separate anti-vax messaging campaigns. One of these, which grossed $ 56,636, was earmarked for the creation of its website and interviews with parents who believe their children have been injured by vaccines.

The most recent GoFundMe campaign for women in the state of Washington had raised $ 7,740 as of this week. A campaign last year based on the scandalous and unfounded claim that the medical community is covering child deaths – in fact it referred to it as the "massacre" of children – raised $ 12,379.

As reported by The Daily Beast & # 39; s Pay Dirt earlier this week, anti-vaxxer ads have a wide reach. Over 147 posts promoted by seven Facebook accounts have been viewed between 1.6 million and 5.2 million times. Just like Cook's last campaign, they overwhelmingly hit women over the age of 25.

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