Coronavirus: conspiracy video against “plandemic” virus spreads on social networks

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A photo illustration shows the YouTube app on a mobile phone with the message that the video has been removed

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Legend

Video is re-downloaded as quickly as it is removed


Major social networks are rushing to delete a new video on the coronavirus conspiracy theory that quickly spread to the Internet.

The so-called “plandemic” video is edited like a documentary, with much higher production standards than many conspiracy videos.

The video is filled with false medical information about the origin of the virus and its transmission.

Despite efforts to remove it, users are constantly downloading the clip.

Since the 26-minute video first appeared earlier this week, it has exploded on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other websites, prompting an attempt to delete it.

Among his claims are the fact that the virus must have been released from a laboratory environment and cannot be of natural origin; that the use of masks and gloves makes people sicker; and that closing the beaches is “crazy” because of the “healing of germs” in the water.

Such claims are not supported by reliable medical and scientific advice.

The video also suggests that the number of deaths is deliberately falsified, in order to exert control over the population.

Analysis

By Marianna Spring, journalist specializing in disinformation

Scammers, pranksters and politicians have all been responsible for launching deceptive rumors – but people masquerading as experts in videos like this have become crucial in spreading false allegations.

Documentary-style movies that promote conspiracy theories are becoming increasingly popular, and a marked evolution from the shady medical advice transmitted on WhatsApp at the start of the pandemic.

Careful production means that videos often seem fairly believable at first – before promoting totally false claims. This makes them as dangerous – if not more so – than advice with a mixture of truth and deceptive medical myths.

Videos often attract much more attention than content from trusted media, and the controversial experts they present have amassed their own fans. The erroneous information they spread is generally used to undermine information provided by trusted health authorities and organizations.

It is a cat and mouse game for social media sites like YouTube, as the same item can be downloaded multiple times by different users.

The video has been viewed millions of times on multiple platforms. Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo have removed all versions of their sites.

But such efforts can benefit the filmmaker, who claims that there is a large-scale conspiracy to hide the truth.

In an article saying that the 26-minute video is an excerpt from a future full-length documentary, he urges readers to download the video directly and republish it elsewhere, “in an effort to bypass the guardians of free speech” .

Since the start of the pandemic, social networks have all had to adapt their content policies to deal with potentially dangerous misinformation.

Twitter has said it will remove “unverified allegations” that could prove to be dangerous, while Facebook has introduced new tools to direct users to trusted sources of information.

YouTube said that “the video in question had been deleted for claiming a remedy against Covid-19 which had not been supported by health organizations”.

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