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In Covid-19’s wake, uncertainty about the emerging outbreak has propagated mis- and disinformation across the internet. Early in March, President Donald J. Trump made headlines after contradicting — without evidence — the death rate compiled by the WHO in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, claiming the rate was lower based on his own “hunch” — a claim that later made the rounds on Twitter. Dubious books about the virus have cropped up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And sham coronavirus-killing products have prompted warnings from U.S. regulatory agencies.
“Uncertainty about the emerging outbreak has propagated mis- and disinformation across the internet.”
The tactics are nothing new. Politicians have long been motivated to bend current events to fit their worldview, said Hal Roberts, a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. And swindlers, he added, profit from money-making health schemes that have been long integral to media and advertising. For people who may feel maligned by medicine and public health systems today, Roberts said, mistrust of health experts might lead them to sham advice they view as more aligned with their values.
Posted: April 28, 2020
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