Here’s all the fake news that’s not fit to print…
- Apparently exposure to Sean Hannity can be deadly. According to experts, misinformation spread by Fox News and other conservative media “may have intensified the severity” of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three different studies “paint a picture of a media ecosystem that entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking steps to protect themselves and others.” In others words, right-wing media spread fake news and their followers believe it. This influences how they act — in this case, not believing that there’s a crisis and not following the advice of experts. They refuse to wear masks, dare to gather in public, and just generally flout all the recommended social distancing advice. Not surprisingly, this results in the right-wingers actually having higher infection and mortality rates and helping to spread the virus when it should be dialing down. Thanks, conservative media! (Sean Hannity takes the brunt of the blame here — areas of the country where he’s big have the worst infection rates.) Read all about it in the Washington Post.
- Conspiracy theories that claim 5G cell phone technology is somehow responsible for the coronavirus have led to an increase in violence across North America, Europe, and Australia. People are setting fire to cell phone towers and verbally abusing phone company workers. Newsweek has the story.
- An increasing number of people, bored out of their gourds by the coronavirus quarantine, are turning to (illegal) fireworks to let off a little steam. All those unexpectedly big and bright explosions in the sky are scaring other easily-frightened citizens, who are cooking up all sorts of wacky conspiracy theories to explain the nightly goings on. (The fireworks are apparently “a coordinated psychological operation designed to destabilize communities and prepare citizens for a coming government assault on the populace.” Right.) It just goes to show how easily swayed some people are, especially in times of extreme stress. Read about it in the Business Insider.
- Speaking of conspiracy theories, Retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, the White House’s nominee for a top Pentagon post, repeatedly spread conspiracy theories that former CIA director John Brennan tried to overthrow President Donald Trump and even have him assassinated. And this is someone we want running our military? CNN has the story.
- Still on the subject of conspiracy theories, Dr. Winnie Heartstrong, Republican candidate for Congress from Missouri, is spouting the conspiracy theory that George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police was a hoax and that Floyd actually died way back in 2016. (She claims that those videos we’ve all seen of Floyd being held to the ground by a knee to the neck were created with deepfake technology.) Read about in from the Independent.
- QAnon is one of the most insane yet increasingly popular conspiracy theories. One way its spreading is via Facebook and other social media. The Guardian examines how QAnon conspiracies thrive on Facebook. It’s scary.
- Speaking of Facebook, last year the social media site deleted the account of Natural News, one of the most prolific purveyors of fake medical news. Well, that didn’t work so well; content from Natural News is still finding its way to Facebook news feeds everywhere. Vox shares the bad news.