Covid-19 and 5G : lead to a campaign of misinformation - The Point

The misinformation is to take advantage of the freedom of expression to propagate false information, and this according to some defined principles, defined by t

Covid-19 and 5G : lead to a campaign of misinformation - The Point

The misinformation is to take advantage of the freedom of expression to propagate false information, and this according to some defined principles, defined by the researchers of the RAND Corporation, Christopher Paul and Miriam Matthews : timeliness, continuity, fluidity. An effective way of spreading the desired information is to control, manually or by computer, many accounts on various social media. Accounts of this type, called bots, are found by the millions on our social networks, and are the main vehicles of disinformation on a large scale.

To be hard-hitting, the false information should be spread quickly before the online information is correct and verifiable. The truth is not a determining factor, even if the majority of the new propaganda contain a part of truth. The sociologist and a Harvard graduate Kathleen M. Carley argues that a false news travel six times faster on social media than a real one. At the same time, Christopher Paul and Miriam Matthews demonstrate that multiple sources are more persuasive than a single source, and that the frequency with which it receives this information is paramount.

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therefore, the number is important. On social networks, the accounts managed by Russia must be proactive, that is to say they must publish abundantly, share, comment and pass on similar information in the accompanying YouTube videos and images presented as evidence. If a publication is shared, retweetée, liked or commented by many other accounts, it seems to be more reliable and more truthful than a publication has resulted in little interaction.

It therefore becomes essential for all fake accounts to be linked to each other and to support each of the publications of the other. The bots allow you to perform this transfer and the sharing of information more quickly and more efficiently than if the work was done manually. Fake accounts create the illusion that the information is supported by several thousands, or even millions, of people, making it more " reliable ".

To this effect, the misinformation does not undertake to defend a single story. In practice, many false information is shared at the same time by several different accounts. If individuals do not adhere to the false news, it is discartée, the bots cease to circulate. However, if the individuals adhere strongly to the false news, the bots will check the relay as often as possible in a short period of time to increase its scope.

Misinformation and Covid-19

At the present time, in the midst of a pandemic, the sociologist Kathleen Mellon stresses that the activity of the bots is two times larger than that predicted by studies based on the level of activity during the previous crises.

According to Stephanie Carvin, a professor at Carleton university and former senior analyst national security for the canadian security intelligence Service security, bots, russians are currently promoting two theories particularly dangerous :

the virus was created in a laboratory as a biological weapon ;

the pandemic is to cover the adverse effects of the new towers 5G (or, as a variant, that the towers spread the virus).

The first theories pushed by the bots russians appear from the first days of January, while it is only mid-march that the bots chinese and iranians to join. Since, the publications of the bots have largely exceeded those of humans. According to Kathleen Carley, the bots are currently responsible for about 70 % of the activity related to the Covid-19 on Twitter, and 45 % of accounts relaying information on the virus bots. The audiences most receptive to these theories are the current anti-vax, the followers of conspiracy theories and the technophobes.

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According to the first theory, the Covid-19 has been created in a laboratory before being released into the nature as a weapon biochemical. According to the hearings, it traces the same story, but the country of origin changes. Some theories claim that the virus was developed in a laboratory in china's Wuhan, other than it was developed in a military laboratory in the United States before being transported and released in the city of Wuhan. The reality is that no matter the story, this theory is dangerous, since it directly links the pandemic of the criminal actions of the political elites. However, the fact that the company openly questioning the integrity of its elites, be they political or scientific, can have a significant impact on the spread of the disease.

for example, a recent survey of professor Sarah Evert leads in Ottawa reveals that this theory would be supported by about 26 per cent of Canadians. Using the tool Datametrex, researchers from the university of Carleton have been able to study more than five million publications on the social networks, publications then linked to botting russians or chinese.

Theories complotistes

The conspiracy theories associated with the Covid-19 are particularly solid foundation as knowledge of the scientific community about the virus remains limited. These theories can therefore create the illusion of filling the void left by the science, to explain what scientists can't. Kathleen Carley also points out that these theories are particularly difficult to discredit since they are shared by a large number of people, including politicians and celebrities, who have an audience that is much broader than the scientific.

In regards to the theory of the 5G, the survey of the Carleton university reveals that it is about 11 % of Canadians who believe that the Covid-19 is not a real virus, or serious, but that the pandemic will be used to cover the harmful effects of the towers 5G on the man. Conspiracy theories associate the outbreak of the virus in China and its spread to the development of 5G, where China acts as a pioneer of the technology. In the wake of the spread of this theory, several acts of vandalism have taken place against the installations of telecommunications – 5G or not – anywhere in Europe. There are now more than 60 incidents on the european continent and at least 4 in Quebec.

according to the survey of Sarah Evert from the university of Carleton, the young people from 18 to 29 years old are more supporters of the conspiracy theories. The biggest fans also have a much more important social media is that the individuals not adhering to this kind of theories. These individuals share and comment on a lot more information concerning conspiracies that the majority of users are normal and are also much more likely to discredit the scientific advances or the true information – in commenting on the extensive fake news for example – that users not adhering to these theories. 49 % of Canadians believing that the Covid-19 has been created in the laboratory and 58 % of Canadians believing in the theory on the 5G have said to be able to easily distinguish between the false information and conspiracy theories of the true information.

The sociologist Kathleen Carley suggests possible solutions in order to expose the false information. First, this is not because the information is relayed by several thousands of people or because it comes from several sources that it is necessarily true. As more than 80 % of the misinformation comes from individuals and not from traditional media, the usual channels are usually secured against reliability. Moreover, if a solution – a remedy in the case of the Covid-19 – sounds too good to be true, it is that it is probably false. In the case of the Covid-19, the most reliable sources remain the scientists, the WHO or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example. Before sharing a publication, it is best to ensure that the information is verifiable and if the information is wrong, the correct practice is to report the user as a fake account. In addition, social media are infested by the misinformation, largely spread with the aid of images or YouTube videos by bots and fake accounts.

The misinformation, for what ?

Why misinformation exists and why the Russians are using it in profusion ? The answer lies in the simple fact that the Russian foreign policy is focused on its own interests, and only on its own interests. The use of misinformation, therefore, is to serve these interests.

If Russia pushes theories against the 5G, it may be to slow down the deployment and undermine the economic development of some countries. In its international relations, Russia " has no friends ", but she has allies, and those allies will remain allies as long as the alliance will serve the interests of Moscow. The disinformation, which seeks to both destabilize the enemies deemed hostile to Russia and its allies, and to preserve the feelings of pro-russians in these same allies – therefore probably still beautiful days in front of it...

*Sophie Marineau is a phd student in history of international relations at the catholic university of Louvain.

Updated Date: 01 July 2020, 08:34

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