Conspiracy theories over Coronavirus spreads like a virus

3rd February 2020 / Global
Conspiracy theories over Coronavirus spreads like a virus

By TruePublica: It should come as no surprise to any straight-thinking person that it is Facebook that is the platform of choice for the conspiracy theorists and when it comes to Coronavirus – it is no different. It has come under fierce international criticism for doing little to combat fake news and spreading nonsense stories over the virus. Not only are people’s lives at stake, but civil society is also affected as are local communities and economies both large and small.

 

Facebook Inc. says it’s stepping up its fight to limit the spread of disinformation about the deadly Coronavirus and will start taking down content with false claims or conspiracy theories. But like much of the nonsense spread around on Facebook, it is highly doubtful they will make much effort or be effective.

We are doing this as an extension of our existing policies to remove content that could cause physical harm,” said Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook’s head of health, in a blog post Thursday. Given that existing policies over the spread of fake news are wholly ineffective, it is obvious that the conspiracy theories will continue. Social media is the epicentre of all conspiracy theories today – and it spreads just like any other virus. Anyone who comes into contact with social media is likely to be exposed to it – some are infected – and some never really recover!

There are Facebook posts about false cures, such as drinking bleach to cure the virus or confusing posts about available health resources. Hashtags that are being used to spread disinformation on Instagram (also owned by Facebook) are just as prevalent.

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FullFact had to clarify that Jacob Rothschild does not actually own a patent to Coronavirus and similarly had to make clear that it’s not all 5G’s fault. It even had to debunk a story that the lab from which the Coronavirus originated has the same symbol as the lab responsible for a mass outbreak in the Resident Evil games. One conspiracy website posted an article that suggested an emergency preparedness exercise by the “GATES FOUNDATION & OTHERS PREDICTED UP TO 65 MILLION DEATHS” from the coronavirus spreading (we won’t post links to these sites as ironically that helps Google rank them higher). The one common denominator in all this is social media. It’s not that people are stupid to believe this stuff it is that people have no idea who or what to believe any more – and of course, much of this stuff is aimed at a younger, more impressionable generation who don’t (yet) know better.

Hoaxes and conspiracy theories have been on the rise since news about deaths and infections linked to the illness began surfacing. IN addition, the spread of anti-Chinese racism has reportedly been on the rise in several countries, such as photos being shared purportedly showing signs that say “No Chinese allowed.”

University of Oxford/Coronavirus

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