KRISE TO GO – observations and challenges during the covid19 pandemic by the research group 8 inequality and digital sovereignty
Rumors and conspiracy theories find a fertile ground in environments of low confidence and low trust. Therefore it is not surprising that Covid-19 related rumors and conspiracy theories are spreading the internet in these times. A freshly released study (April 30, 2020) points out that the lack of a strong scientific and governmental consensus on how to combat the Coronavirus as well as how to deal with the looming economic crisis resulting from it, causes people to reach out to more informal information sources (Shahsavari et al., 2020).
Indeed, it does not take a lot of effort to stumble upon some more – maybe also a little more exciting (dis)information. The stories which currently circulate on the ‘recommended news’ section of our browsers frontpage, in the social media feeds we follow and in the news we started watching one to maybe a hundred times a day (depending on the subjective desire of being INFORMED) are very diverse – or odd. But even the strangest stories seem to find an echo in the social media.
Although a lot of the stories quickly reveal as desinformation or semi-knowledge, recent events show that some of these seemingly absurd narratives do have a massive negative impact on social behavior in ‘the real world’, like racially fueled attacks against people with an asian background, and demonstrations against public health orders. The emergence of rumors and conspiracy theories about the pandemic should therefore be critically assessed in terms of its impact on people’s sovereignty, both in the digital and the physical world.
Some additional sources we found to be informative and important regarding the issue #conspiracy theories in times of crisis:
In the podcast episode Covid-19: the psychology of conspiracy theories (2020, May 5), The Guardian’s Science Weekly Ian Sample speaks to social psychologist Dr Daniel Jolley about why the pandemic is such fertile ground for conspiracy theories.
The blog post Do COVID-19 conspiracy theories challenge public health delivery? (2020, April 21), from LSE discusses the proliferation of conspiracy theories and rumours in Uganda.
The blog post How conspiracy theories about COVID-19 went viral, The Sydney Morning Herald (2020, April 20) discusses from a science perspective why pandemics breed conspiracy theories.