Coronavirus ‘deniers’ are using Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube to spread conspiracy theories and misinformation about the deadly disease.
The UK-based charity the Center for Countering Digital Hate has been tracking 50 social media accounts that are peddling health-related misinformation.
These forums promote fake cures, question the risk from the current pandemic and peddle conspiracies suggesting that the virus was man-made for nefarious ends.
According to the centre, tech firms like Facebook are not doing enough to combat coronavirus conspiracy theories and other fake information.
The spread of misinformation and fake cures has the potential to undermine efforts to tackle to coronavirus epidemic and could end up costing lives.
‘Social media is currently awash with conspiracy theories, fake news, and incorrect medical advice about coronavirus and COVID-19,’ said the CCDH’s CEO, Imran Ahmed.
‘Some of it is produced by extremists seeking to undermine faith in government and experts, some by grifters seeking to sell false cures and some are just sadly misinformed and think they’re doing the right thing by spreading the wrong advice.’
The CCDH — who counters hate and misinformation on a global scale — is presently tracking around 50 social media bodies with a total membership of 800,000 users promoting misleading information about coronavirus, the Telegraph has reported.
One such misinformation hub is the anti-vaccine Facebook group ‘We Brought Vaxxed to the UK’, which has 4,424 members and recently begun to spread misinformation about the coronavirus alongside its more usual fare.
Messages range from those suggesting that the risk of coronavirus has been exaggerated to the idea that the virus was man-made — either as a weapon, or to sell more vaccines, or as a smokescreen to hide the actions of a cabal of CEOs.
‘It’s a government scam just like every other disease scare every several years,’ wrote one commenter on the group.
‘Its to make the public think the government is doing something.’
Other online misinformation groups appear to have sprung up in direct response to the coronavirus crisis.
One such public group — ‘CORONA VIRUS PSYOP – COVID-19 HOAX’ — was founded only two days ago on March 25, 2020, but has already gained 113 members.
‘Does anyone know anyone personally with COVID-19?,’ the group description asks.
‘I Believe it’s just the common cold/flu blown way out of proportion to enslave humanity and reset the financial system, bring forth the New World Order […] along with mandatory vaccination which will actually posion you and your loved ones.’
‘DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH PEOPLE and post your findings here.’
Read more at dailymail.co.uk