The Democracy Research Institute (DRI) continues to study conspiracy theories and disinformative messages related to the Covid-19 pandemic spread through online media. In October-November, 785 articles and posts published on 15 websites and 10 Facebook pages were analyzed.
Disinformation and conspiracy theories are being spread about the treatment methods of the coronavirus, as well as to the origin and spread of the virus. The intensification of the anti-vaccination campaign in online publications and on Facebook has become especially noticeable in Georgia during the Covid-19 pandemic. Media-monitoring has revealed that the disinformation campaign is specifically targeted to influence public opinion.
Disinformation Campaign with Anti-Western Messages
Western companies working on the vaccine, as well as Microsoft founder Bill Gates remain among the primary targets of disinformation campaign. The main purpose of the campaign targeting them is to spread the myth that the coronavirus was invented by the pharmaceutical companies for prospective billions in financial gain and for Bill Gates to establish world domination. The real picture, however, is different.
The message spread by Facebook groups Anti-Masonry. „Antichrist’s“ New World Order (NWO); Anti-Ecumenism“, „United People's Movement for the Survival of the Georgian Nation!“, „Georgia First of All“, „Corona Mafia“ and „Under Italian Sky“ that Bill Gates is planning to take over the world through forced dangerous vaccinations, is misinformation, originally spread by Russian website cont.ws. In reality, in the article of New England Journal of Medicine Responding to Covid-19 - A Once-in-a-Century Pandemic? Microsoft co-founder talks about the global threats and challenges of the Covid-19 virus, as well as offering recommendations on how humanity should deal with the pandemic. The article does not cover forced vaccination.
Considering, WHO has yet to approve any vaccine for Covid-19, it’s disinformation to talk about any financial profits made by pharmaceutical companies. Yet, Facebook groups that spread the message „Corona Afyora“, „Anti-Masonry. „Antichrist’s“ New World Order (NWO); Anti-Ecumenism“, “United People’s Movement“, „Corona Mafia“. got interactions from 854 people on these posts.
Disinformation Campaign and Conspiracy Theories
Multiple conspiracy theories and false information about the origins and treatment methods of Covid-19 keep being spread online. Individual users, as well as groups keep using Facebook to spread conspiracy theories about the treatment methods of the virus, such as a drug called Levofloxacin or a homeopathic method using a special plant. In reality, the story of a plant discovered by German scientists that kills the coronavirus in minutes is a manipulation of facts and is based on a study published by a Thai medical web portal, with its reliability and validity never varified by the international scientific community. The first source of disinformation in Georgian online media was web portal Nostal.ge.
Levofloxacin being effective method to treat coronavirus is disinformation as well. Levofloxacin is an antibacterial agent, and since Covid-19 is a virus and not a bacterial disease, it cannot be used in a treatment protocol. The groups that spread the disinformation about Levofloxacin; „Stalin”, „Main News“, „World Center Of Georgians“ and „In the Middle of the Road“. Have cited the information source to be web portal tvm.ge.
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The project is being implemented with financial help from Prodemos Fund in the framework of small grant contest “Careful! It’s Disinformation!”. The material prepared in the framework of the project and the views expressed may not reflect the views of the donor organization.
On 18th of August 2022, “Georgia Dream” banned International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) from participating in the working group on electoral issues.