Over the past three months, the world has been experiencing not just one epidemic, but two whole, and one of them is a wave of fake news overwhelmed by media and social networks. The conspiracy of the world government, chipping, malicious 5G towers, ingested methanol (which caused a number of deaths), unobvious methods for diagnosing Covid-19 and drugs with unproven efficacy - we only have to calculate how much poor quality information spread faster than any virus caused to young people.
My project, like many others, went online. Every day we call up with colleagues and hold meetings. This is a very interesting form of work, but periodically we discuss the latest news. And very often, some colleagues tell fake news that they find on some Russian portal. This is complete nonsense, and has nothing to do with reality. But I want everyone who reads this to understand that it is important to maintain adequacy in any situation and soberly weigh their decisions.
On April 6, 2020, Tom Phillips spent on self-isolation - he was in his house in the south of London. The news said that someone set fire to a mobile phone tower in Birmingham that day. Experts suspected the arson was due to a conspiracy theory that the cause of coronavirus was the introduction of 5G networks. Phillips, editor of Full Fact, an independent charity that checks the facts mentioned in the media, was not particularly worried: after all, it was just one local case. Tom decided that it would be necessary to follow the development of the situation, and returned to work.
A few hours later, The Guardian published something else about what happened: unidentified persons set fire to or broke at least 20 towers throughout Britain. Posts in groups on Facebook dedicated to the fight against 5G called for continued raids and upload videos of the process to social networks. Several communications workers were attacked. So, in one of the viral videos on this topic, a local resident attacks two workers laying 5G cables: “You know that when this thing is turned on, everyone will die here? Therefore, the authorities are building so many hospitals! And 25,000 concentration death camps near London! All because of these wires. ”
Soon YouTube, Facebook and Twitter were filled with messages that 5G was allegedly the cause of the epidemic. Videos on this topic have gained millions of views. Celebrities and influencers with a huge audience, such as, for example, Woody Harrelson and Amir Khan, promoted this theory, and in mid-April, the host of the morning television show, Eamon Holmes, told viewers that hiding the role of 5G “could be beneficial to the state.” Will My, CEO of Full Fact, is outraged that the authorities did not pay attention to the warnings of his organization. “The chance to solve this problem was missed a few months ago,” he says. “We foresaw her.” We knew we could prevent it. Actually, the problem was caused by a lack of positive information, and not an excess of negative information. ”
The rapid change of scenery and the lack of scientific consensus in the early stages of the coronavirus epidemic created an information vacuum - a favorable environment for conspiracy theories and false medical advice. Thus, governments and medical organizations, whose resources are already depleted, have a new front in the struggle. In mid-February, Tedros Adhan Gebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, warned participants at the Munich Security Conference.
Coronavirus continues to spread, and experts are increasingly asking the question: what could have been done differently in the early stages of the epidemic? Have measures to maintain social distance been introduced early enough? Why didn’t we create sufficient stocks of protective equipment? Why, when the virus spread to the Chinese province of Hubei, was it not taken seriously in the West? Undoubtedly, one day we will start to ask similar questions about the coronavirus epidemic accompanying the virus and find out what measures will need to be taken when the next crisis occurs. The solution is unlikely to be simple. Fear and confusion created fertile ground for fake news; The lack of simple answers to complex questions created a vacuum that was filled with misinformation. But at the same time, the information epidemic accompanying the coronavirus is a product of the European society, in which truth has ceased to be an objective criterion, and the voice message sent by someone has the same weight as the official medical recommendations. We want independence and clarity too much in an era when it is not easy with clarity and independence.