When viruses go viral

INFODEMI: A study of the corona virus, conspiracy theories and fake news in the disinformation ecosystem.

Co-author: Patrik Szicherle

In the wake of coronavirusthe pandemic is flourishing a number of conspiracy theories. These are not only presented in so-called clickbaitwebsites with misleading and exaggerated articles, but also provided by authoritarian regimes and people who exploit pandemic fear for political purposes.

Conspiracy theories and rumors often spread like wildfire when something dramatic happens, especially if something new has happened that we know little about. This is precisely the case with the coronavirus.

As fear spreads around the world, disinformation campaigns become all the more effective. In addition to clickbait websites that are looking to monetize the fear by spreading false and sensational information about the virus, geopolitical actors interested in creating information chaos have signed up for the disinformation race. To quote WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: "It is an 'infodemia', at least as harmful as the virus itself, that spreads faster and easier [than the virus] and does great damage."

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