From quack cures to smoking cigarettes to keep off COVID-19, disinformation circulating on-line concerning the coronavirus has been huge, a report by 5 European fact-checking organisations, together with AFP, has discovered.
Because the virus reached its peak throughout Europe in March and April, “false and generally harmful recommendation about supposed cures” unfold quickly, from gargling with vinegar to ingesting disinfectant, mentioned the evaluation, which covers the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany and France.
Conspiracy theories additionally ran wild, the authors mentioned, together with that the virus was man-made, that it was linked to the 5G community, with the Microsoft founder Invoice Gates a selected focus of paranoia.
“Like an excellent villain in a James Bond film, the billionaire is portrayed as somebody who desires to ‘management folks’, at any value,” the report discovered.
In France many claimed that “Gates desires to benefit from COVID-19 to implant ‘microchips’ by means of vaccines with the intention to label and geolocalise the inhabitants.”
Hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug which has not been confirmed to assist beat the coronavirus, was closely promoted as a attainable silver bullet within the UK, Spain and in France, the place one of many nation’s main virologists additionally promoted the usage of the drug.
It was additionally touted as potential treatment by US President Donald Trump and Tesla chief Elon Musk.
The World Well being Group warned in February that the “infodemic” of false details about the virus—which has up to now claimed greater than half one million lives worldwide—was making preventing it extra difficult.
False rumours about helicopters spreading pesticide or disinfectant, which seem to have began in Italy, unfold to Spain, Germany and Britain.
The report additionally discovered that theories typically dovetailed with native considerations, with false claims typically centring on pets in Britain and on migrants in Germany.
Whereas the wave of disinformation has ebbed in latest weeks, many false cures and theories are nonetheless circulating on social media, it mentioned.
The evaluation—primarily based on 654 articles printed in March and April—was carried out by AFP, Pagella Politica/Facta in Italy, Maldita.es in Spain, Full Reality within the UK and Correctiv in Germany.
The report might be consulted at COVIDinfodemiceurope.com/report/COVID_report.pdf .
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Disinformation on coronavirus ‘huge’ says report (2020, July 1)
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