Are misinformation campaigns driving COVID deaths?

According to Nafeez Ahmed of the Byline Time right wing political figures are playing a major roles in driving confusion and social unrest around responses to the COVID-19 pandemic – in South Africa amongst other countries. In his article, titled Cambridge Analytica Psychologist Advising Global COVID-19 Disinformation Network. Ahmed exposes links between far-right political groups and the super wealthy, and Facebook misinformation campaigns that are exacerbating the pandemic.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay 

The same people that pushed for Brexit, that pushed for Trump, that pushed the “White Monopoly Capital” myth in South Africa, are now pushing anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown misinformation. This can cost lives – in fact the article suggests that these misinformation campaigns may have directly led to the second COVID-19 wave that cost so many lives in December and January in South Africa.

Discernment is necessary when dealing with the uncertainty of the pandemic. Conspiracies play on our emotions – and we are ALL taking strain with the responses to the pandemic.

I discussed this last year in How to recognise fake news. In the absence of data / evidence we need to be cautious about the motivations of those posting on Facebook and elsewhere.