As the presidential election finally appears to be over (it was over the next day, to be honest) and everybody except Donald Trump and his most fervent supporters have accepted that fact, fake news revolving around COVID-19 and the coronavirus vaccine is now at the forefront of our attention. Let’s dive into it.
- What was the biggest lie of the year? PolitiFact says it was coronavirus downplay and denial. (I think it was a close contest with Trump’s “the election was rigged/I really won the election.”) In any case, PolitiFact has a terrific in-depth article about all the lies, fake news, and conspiracy theories that ruled the national discussion in 2020. Read it here.
- A few miles down the road from my house, in downtown Lakeville, Minnesota, a bar called Alibi Drinkery decided to disobey our state’s lockdown orders and open up for business. Unmasked imbeciles crowded into the bar, drinking and singing and yelling at each other with zero social distancing taking place. When asked why they were engaging in obviously risky behavior, the bar’s patrons spewed forth a plethora of untruths, disinformation, and conspiracy theories, such as the COVID-19 virus isn’t real, it’s no worse than the flu, nobody’s really dying from it, it’s all a hoax, and so forth. It saddens and disturbs me how ignorant my neighbors and others around the country really are and how susceptible they are the fake news and misinformation floating around the social media sphere. These drunken revelers (and the owners of the offending business) are endangering the health of themselves and their friends and family, all because they won’t accept the reality of facts and science. This is the danger of fake news. Our local Sun This Week newspaper has the story.
- Here’s one that the virus deniers have been referencing (including those drinking at Alibi), that death figures are actually down this year, not up by 300,000 or more as the experts have been telling us. Well, that’s not true; the virus deniers are fudging the numbers. Reuters does the debunking.
- The incoming Biden administration faces major challenges in battling all the coronavirus disinformation. All this misinformation about the pandemic — what some are calling an “infodemic” — is inspiring virus deniers to ignore lockdown orders and socialize without masks and may result in not enough people getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The Washington Post’s Technology 202 column has the story.
- Moving (slightly) beyond fake coronavirus news, the QAnon conspiracy theory is growing and starting to hijack the national conversation. (It even touches on the coronavirus.) How has QAnon moved from the fringe to the mainstream, and what dangers does it pose? Read about it in this detailed analysis from CNN.
- Finally, NPR has a good story about how the right wing’s embrace of QAnon and other conspiracy theories is a form of “mass radicalization.” Read it here.