“Online misinformation and hoaxes have become a kind of secondary infection that erupts in the time of outbreaks.”
Health hoaxes and the people who fall for them
Mar 20, 2020
Free Speech Project – “I don’t know … but I think this … epidemic is a form of population control.”
“Two weeks ago hardly anyone had heard about the virus. Now the … vaccine is almost ready. How big do you want the red flag to be?”
“Pharma has captured the governments of the world.”
“Our friends are being targeted & attacked & the media is lying about what’s actually going on.”
All of those sentiments, which came from popular social media posts, sound familiar to anyone who’s been following the news recently.
But they aren’t about the coronavirus—they aren’t even from this year.
The first is from the 2014 Ebola outbreak, the second from a meme popular during 2015’s Zika outbreak, and the last about the 2019 measles outbreak in Samoa.
Online misinformation and hoaxes have become a kind of secondary infection that erupts in the time of outbreaks.
“It’s all part of the depopulation agenda”
In outbreak scenarios, there is always misinformation about the cause and progression of the disease: It was engineered in a lab, it was released by an entity that patented it, the government screwed up and released a bioweapon.
There are conspiracies about treatments and vaccines: Pharma profiteers are using the panic to force vaccines on the public, the elites are getting clean vaccines, it’s all part of the depopulation agenda.
There are the grifters peddling fake cures: vitamin C, colloidal silver, hemp oil, all available for purchase on the website of the person posting the meme, of course.
There are partisan media figures politicizing the outbreak. Although the specifics change, these narratives recur.
Usually, the false narratives and conspiracies stay largely confined to particular affected communities or geographical regions.
Zika, with its highly visible birth defects, held the attention of the world for a few weeks, but as a primarily mosquito-borne and sexually transmitted illness, it stayed largely geographically confined … Read more.
WAR ON SCIENCE:
Coronavirus has conspiracy theorists and anti-5G campaigners working overtime
Facebook is filled with competing theories, all racing to fit coronavirus into a shadowy alternate reality
codastory.com – As Facebook pledges to tackle urgent and potentially dangerous forms of misinformation about the coronavirus, conspiracy theorists on the platform have gone into overdrive.
“We know that they’re wanting a new world order… ”
Yesterday, a Facebook video rapidly spread through COVID-19-related community WhatsApp groups in London.
“We know that they’re wanting a new world order,” a British man named Jason Nota said to the camera, before recounting theories from the far-right conspiracy QAnon, which claim the virus is a hoax. “The coronavirus is nothing but a smokescreen.”
The video attracted more than two million views and 80,000 shares before it was removed, along with Nota’s profile. It offered a doorway into a panicked online world, filled with competing positions, all racing to fit the global proliferation of the virus into a shadowy alternate reality of secret cabals and elaborate world domination schemes.
Some of the loudest voices are found within anti-5G groups — a movement Coda Story reported on last month. The Stop 5G UK Facebook page has more than 30,000 members and generates around 1,600 posts a day.
Its feed is filled with apocalyptic messages and videos, claiming that the virus is a result of 5G exposure, a mass depopulation project, a plot led by Bill Gates, or a ploy to vaccinate people with a tracking microchip.
One of the most popular conspiracies circulating on the Stop 5G UK group is that COVID-19 was manufactured in a lab. This narrative, which Coda Story reported on earlier this week, has also been pushed heavily in recent months by Russian and Chinese state media.
The strategy appears to be working. According to research published this week by the Pew Research Center, 29% of Americans now subscribe to this theory.
Meanwhile, others believe the COVID-19 pandemic to be a mass reaction to new wireless technology. “Do you Know the Corona virus is not a [expletive] virus 🙄🙄🙄 it’s 5G that’s actually killing people and not a ‘virus,’” wrote one Stop 5G UK member on March 10. The post was shared more than 1300 times.
Daniel Jolley is a social psychologist at Northumbria University who studies conspiracy theorists.
In an interview with Coda Story, he explained that, as governments around the world struggle to slow the spread of COVID-19, confusion and fear are driving many people to search for answers elsewhere … Read more.