Fake News Kills!

We spend a lot of time here on Infotagion talking about the danger of disinformation. It’s a threat to democracy, a threat to a stable world order, and in many cases seems to encourage authoritarianism. [cough] Donald Trump.

We also do our fair share of handwriting over the possibility that it could be a direct danger to our health, and the disinformation surrounding COVID could well result in sickness or even death.

A new study has now confirmed this.

A study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene detailed how Online conspiracy theories and misinformation relating to Covid-19 have resulted in at least 800 deaths from coronavirus.

It details examples of three categories of harmful information: misleading rumours, conspiracy theories and some stigma surrounding the pandemic.

The rumours include ridiculous notions like trying to cure COVID by drinking bleach, hand sanitiser or even cow urine.

False conspiracy theories include the every popular notion that Covid-19 is a weapon funded by Bill Gates, as well as notions that Covid-19 was engineered to damage Trump’s re-election chances.

This sounds relatively benign, but it’s worth noting that the WHO has declared that disinformation about COVID is spreading faster than the virus itself.

And while we should at least be grateful for that, we should also be wary. According to the WHO, the worst countries for disinformation, are also the worst countries for infection — including the US, Brazil, India, and Spain. In fact, more than 7 million pieces of disinformation were shared online from April to June.

The most popular? COVID is caused by 5G.