Inside the making of a viral coronavirus conspiracy video

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To build their credibility, the makers of COVID-19 conspiracy videos are mixing falsities with the voices of credentialed scientists, who are sometimes unaware of how their statements are being used. I n mid-March , filmmaker Robert Cibis—at the time best known for a 93-minute documentary about a master piano tuner—uploaded a short interview with the German physician and socialist politician Wolfgang Wodarg to YouTube. In the video, Wodarg alleges that the COVID-19 pandemic is a “hype” drummed up by sensationalist virologists and spread by scientists “who want to be important in politics because they need money for their institutions.” Read Full Story

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People who believe COVID-19 conspiracies have these 7 tendencies

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The viral video ‘Plandemic’ illustrates many of the characteristics of conspiratorial thinking, from embracing contradictions to assuming nefarious intent. The conspiracy theory video “Plandemic” recently went viral . Despite being taken down by YouTube and Facebook, it continues to get uploaded and viewed millions of times . The video is an interview with conspiracy theorist Judy Mikovits, a disgraced former virology researcher who believes the COVID-19 pandemic is based on a vast deception, with the purpose of profiting from selling vaccinations. Read Full Story

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I’m a doctor. Here’s how I talk to my patients about COVID-19 conspiracies

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Listening with empathy and respect is the best medicine for those who believe health misinformation. A few weeks ago, I took an uncomfortable trip down the rabbit hole of COVID-19 conspiracy theory videos. As a newly minted M.D. who will soon be taking care of patients at a safety-net hospital on the front lines of an ongoing pandemic, I was especially pained by what I saw. There was the infamous “Plandemic” video, which asserts that a cabal of elite individuals and organizations is using COVID-19 to cement power. There were also false claims that the new coronavirus was created with the backing of Bill Gates, for the purposes of diminishing our freedoms. Read Full Story

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The ‘Plandemic’ video is a dangerous mashup of COVID-19 conspiracies

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The viral video uses similar tactics to QAnon to sew mistrust in an eventual vaccine—and in the U.S. government. YouTube and Facebook have now removed it from their platforms. A new conspiracy theory is making the rounds to cast doubt on an eventual COVID-19 vaccine and question the credibility of the U.S. government’s response. A viral video that details the false claims, called “Plandemic,” has been removed from both Facebook and YouTube after being shared widely. Read Full Story

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COVID-19 conspiracy theories in China are wildly different than in the U.S.

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Researchers who study social media examined misinformation about the pandemic on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter—and found little about Bill Gates, 5G, or ‘Plandemic.’ Conspiracy theories about COVID-19 have accompanied the pandemic from the beginning. Crucial to managing the pandemic is mitigating the effects of misinformation , which the World Health Organization dubbed an “infodemic.” Read Full Story

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A new report says Facebook’s anti-misinformation strategy isn’t working

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As the ‘Plandemic’ COVID-19 hoax video gets a sequel, an activist group concludes that Facebook’s effort to combat misinformation doesn’t go far enough. Plandemic , the viral conspiracy-laden video that claims the COVID-19 outbreak was orchestrated by government officials and billionaires, is back—now in feature-length form. This second installment and its various promotion efforts have coincided with a new report from privacy watchdog group Avaaz that calls out Facebook’s efforts to combat health misinformation on its platform. Read Full Story

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Is the explosion of COVID-19 conspiracies changing people’s real-world behavior?

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More than 20 million people saw a video filled with lies about COVID-19. Researchers still don’t know how this kind of viral misinformation is impacting people’s willingness to wear masks—or to get an eventual vaccine. On Monday night, Breitbart News launched a video of a press conference from a group of physicians called America’s Frontline Doctors, wherein several doctors repeated inaccurate claims about COVID-19, its treatments, and effects. The video reached over 20 million viewers on Facebook alone before being taken down Tuesday. The fast spread of this video and its false claims raises a big question about how much this kind of information affects people’s decisions to stay home, wear a mask, and ultimately, to get vaccinated when a COVID-19 vaccine is approved. Read Full Story

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