Dissemination of false information and conspiracy theories to SARS-CoV-2
The Coronavirus pandemic has raised in many people of strong uncertainty and there is a high demand for information, which is in particular operated on the Internet, often with false information and conspiracy theories is. How such false information, the global spread and the dangers this brings with itself, is illuminated in a recent contribution to the prestigious magazine “Nature”.
Both to the emergence of the new Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, as well as to the propagation of many wild theories, which are by any scientific research proven to exist have spread, but with a tremendous speed globally. In the current review article, Researchers have analyzed the emergence and spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories about SARS-CoV-2, and the risks this presented.
Incorrect information initially hardly relevant
In several studies, million Social Media were evaluated Posts around COVID-19 and the channels for dissemination of unwittingly passed on false recognized in the statements of information, conspiracy theories, and targeted incorrectly. In the early Phase of the pandemic, the failure would have played at the Posts on Twitter, for example, information about only a minor role, report the researchers. Rather, the fundamental scientific uncertainties had been about the outbreak in the focus, since some of the essential characteristics of the Virus such as the Transferability and the mortality could only be with large error rates estimated.
“Uncertainty vacuum” due to gaps in knowledge
By the honest acknowledgement of gaps in knowledge, an “uncertainty vacuum” that allowed superficial sources, with no real Expertise to fill in, was the biologist Carl Bergstrom of the University of Washington in Seattle, explained. So also some of the conspiracy theories that Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, suspect as the driving force behind the pandemic, for example. Some claim that Gates had created the Virus itself, others say he got it patented, and plan the application of a vaccine to control people.
Bill Gates and the Coronavirus
In mid-March, was finally claimed on the website Biohackinfo.com mistakenly, Gates, tarp, a Coronavirus vaccine as a Trick to monitor people by injected micro-chip or a quantum dot-spying software. A corresponding YouTube Video that has now reached almost two million views, went two days later online. Also the former adviser to the US President, Donald Trump, Roger Stone, commented on the theory in April, in a radio broadcast, and added that he would trust a Gates-funded Coronavirus vaccine never.
High range with little effort
So the conspiracy theory pulled out of their cars and on the Interview to the newspaper the New York Post reported, to refute without the thoughts. The article was shared by almost one Million people on Facebook, or commented on. “This is a better performance than most of the news articles in the Mainstream media achieving,” emphasizes Joan Donovan, a sociologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And here is the core of the problem: Given the extremely high range, with misinformation and conspiracy theories in a simple manner to achieve, is to dedicate an incentive such topics targeted to.
Coronavirus perfect conditions for conspiracy theories
The Gates-the conspiracy theories are part of a flood of misinformation about the Coronavirus, which has spread online. Although such theories arise every major news event, but the Coronavirus pandemic, offers the perfect conditions for the spread of rumors and false information, explains data scientist (Data Scientist), Walter Quattrociocchi of the University of Ca’Foscari in Venice. Because people spend more time at home and search online for answers to an uncertain and quickly changing Situation.
Overabundance of information
“The topic is polarizing, scary, captivating,” says Quattrociocchi. In addition, all Interested really easy to get to information in a manner consistent with your own belief system. “An Overabundance of information – some correct and some not, makes it difficult to trusted sources of information and reliable guidance to find AIDS”, emphasizes the expert. This Situation will be referred to as “info demisch”.
Dangers of misinformation
The Problem of the “Infodemie” be your huge extent. Because much more information is produced than we can really analyze and consume, explain the researchers. And in a global health crisis does not lead to inaccurate information only misleading, but you can decide about life and death, for example, when people start untested drugs to take or ignore the advice of the public health, warn experts in the specialist’s contribution.
Organised fraud with false information
In addition, organized fraud is a significant Problem. So this year, more than 68,000 site was registered-Domains with key words about the Coronavirus, of which many are trying to sell with the wrong treatment promises questionable products or the personal data of the Users hands. Some of the Scam websites have managed also to put by the use of a combination of key words that are optimized to a specific audience aligned to the top of the search results on Google.
Reliable information to enhance
Overall, a drastic Problem with the spread of misinformation on the Internet, even if the motives may be behind it is very different in nature. Since people can already not stop them, even unfounded rumors to pass on, the question of how the dissemination of reliable information can be strengthened, that they can spread faster and further than the misinformation, conclude the researchers.
Social Media platforms need to act
Also the Social Media platforms are in the duty. Although your main goal is to maximize the involvement of the Users, and not in the dissemination of evidence-based information. But Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube have recognized the challenge and are already collaborating in the fight against misinformation announced.
Contributions from the Brazilian President deleted
For example, the contributions of the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro false information is deleted to the effect of hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19 already and also advertising for “miracle cures” or for over-priced face masks have been prevented. However, the platforms often react very sluggish, and the corresponding misinformation spread by then already strong.
Some can’t be convinced
In principle, the efforts to make good information well-known to provide the poor with a warning, and also their limits. “If people think that the WHO is anti-American or Anthony Fauci is corrupt, or that Bill Gates is evil, then the higher valuation alternative source is not much use – it makes the people believe that the platform may be conspiring with this source,” emphasizes Renee diResta from the Stanford Internet Observatory in California.
Which sources are trusted?
The Problem is not, therefore, a lack of facts, but the question of what sources people trust. Here it does not help to explain the conspiracy theorists that you should be critical media consumers, because you think that you are just by you to do your own Research, and what the other support, as misinformation rate.
Specifically, the researchers warn of the end of how extremist groups use false information about the Coronavirus, in order to attract the attention of people, and by the way, open to radical views. “The increase of fear and misinformation around COVID-19 has made it possible for promoters of malicious thoughts and hatred to the Mainstream audience through a common topic of interest and to filled it with hatred to push views,” the researchers say. (fp)