COVID-19 / Coronavirus: Disinformation, Fake News & Scams

EnolaGaia

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Social Media Is Full of Bots Spreading COVID-19 Anxiety. Don't Fall For It
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/bots-are-causing-anxiety-by-spreading-coronavirus-misinformation
This later (May 2020) MIT Technology Review item provides more detailed quantification of the heightened usage of bots to spread disinfo / misinfo on COVID-19 this year.
Nearly half of Twitter accounts pushing to reopen America may be bots

There has been a huge upswell of Twitter bot activity since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, amplifying medical disinformation and the push to reopen America.

Kathleen M. Carley and her team at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Informed Democracy & Social Cybersecurity have been tracking bots and influence campaigns for a long time. Across US and foreign elections, natural disasters, and other politicized events, the level of bot involvement is normally between 10 and 20%, she says.

But in a new study, the researchers have found that bots may account for between 45 and 60% of Twitter accounts discussing covid-19. Many of those accounts were created in February and have since been spreading and amplifying misinformation, including false medical advice, conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus, and pushes to end stay-at-home orders and reopen America. ...

They follow well-worn patterns of coordinated influence campaigns, and their strategy is already working: since the beginning of the crisis, the researchers have observed a greater polarization in Twitter discourse around the topic.

A number of factors could account for this surge. The global nature of the pandemic means a larger swath of actors are motivated to capitalize on the crisis as a way to meet their political agendas. Disinformation is also now more coordinated in general, with more firms available for hire to create such influence campaigns. ...

To perform their most recent analysis, the researchers studied more than 200 million tweets discussing coronavirus or covid-19 since January. They used machine-learning and network analysis techniques to identify which accounts were spreading disinformation and which were most likely bots or cyborgs (accounts run jointly by bots and humans).

The system looks for 16 different maneuvers that disinformation accounts can perform, including “bridging” between two groups (connecting two online communities), “backing” an individual (following the account to increase the person’s level of perceived influence), and “nuking” a group (actions that lead to an online community being dismantled).

Through the analysis, they identified more than 100 types of inaccurate covid-19 stories and found that not only were bots gaining traction and accumulating followers, but they accounted for 82% of the top 50 and 62% of the top 1,000 influential retweeters. The influence of each account was calculated to reflect the number of followers it reached as well as the number of followers its followers reached. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.technologyreview.com/20...-bot-twitter-accounts-push-to-reopen-america/
 
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EnolaGaia

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Viral claim that only 6% of COVID-19 deaths were caused by the virus is flat-out wrong

A bogus claim circulating social media — one that purports that "only 6%" of the reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are solely attributable to the new coronavirus — is dangerously misleading, infectious disease experts told Live Science.

This claim stems from an Aug. 26 update the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) posted on its website, which provides a detailed breakdown of the accompanying health conditions (known as comorbidities) and contributing causes of death reported in people who have died of the new coronavirus in the United States. The CDC noted that "For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned."

In other words, 6% of people who died when they had COVID-19 didn't have underlying conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or heart disease, and didn't experience any medical complications, such as kidney failure or sepsis. But the other 94% of deaths were still caused by COVID-19, infectious disease experts said. That's because many chronic, underlying conditions can make diseases that a person might otherwise recover from, such as COVID-19, suddenly deadly. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/covid-19-comorbidities.html
 

Lb8535

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People who can't read data make me crazy. I am reading "didn't have underlying conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or heart disease, and didn't experience any medical complications, such as kidney failure or sepsis " as "didn't have an underlying chronic condition that required ongoing medical help OR did not experience any medical complications", which means that the 6% is those without underlying conditions as well as those in whom c19 did not cause a non-pulmonary medical complication. I tried reading it as the complication resulted from the underling condition and it made no sense - can't think of a co-morbidity that would cause sepsis for example. I wish that people would just use words like "wrong" and "lie" when appropriate. "Misleading" avoids the point of the story.
 

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Mad stuff.

Wild rumours about coronavirus are fuelling opposition to testing in the northern Indian state of Punjab, reports BBC Punjabi's Arvind Chhabra.

"Human organs are being smuggled," Sonia Kaur, who lives in a village in Punjab's Sangrur district, tells the BBC. "Not just the villagers but the whole world is scared of this. Social media is full of such news."

Ms Kaur says she has heard of people's organs being harvested under the guise of diagnosing and treating coronavirus. She is echoing the fears of countless others in rural Punjab who are sceptical of the virus.

Rumours are flying fast in Punjab that the virus is a hoax, that people who don't have Covid-19 are being taken away to care centres, where they are being killed for their organs, and that bodies are being swapped to allay suspicion.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-54068007
 

GNC

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Why is it always organ harvesting they fear so much in Asia? Is there a history of this crime happening there?
 

Mythopoeika

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Why is it always organ harvesting they fear so much in Asia? Is there a history of this crime happening there?
Gosh, I don't know. Does 'Falun Gong' mean anything to you?
 

GNC

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I wonder why so many rich and powerful Asians need organ transplants, then.
 

Mythopoeika

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I wonder why so many rich and powerful Asians need organ transplants, then.
Some of the food and 'medicine' they consume may have toxic effects. Kidney failures a-go-go.
 

AnonyJoolz

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Why is it always organ harvesting they fear so much in Asia? Is there a history of this crime happening there?
It's because, in south Asia (India, Pakistan etc.,) altruistic organ donation barely exists. It's a paid-for operation with many poor people donating a kidney in exchange for cash and hoping their single one will see them through life. Hence the possibility that organ stealing may happen not being thought of as outlandish as in Europe.

With certain medical conditions being more common among certain ethnic groups (eg diabetes 1 & 2 and its common complication, kidney failure, in people with south Asian heritage) then certain types of organ are in great demand in certain countries. Even very rich people in Europe will pay for organs from another continent if the tissue types match.

Match the propensity to believe rumours (due to less education or a conspiratorial mindset) to the current rate of smartphone ownership and you get the Facebook posts that spread like wildfire. It happens everywhere, but especially in south Asia because for generations, ordinary people have been robbed, shafted, killed and made destitute by the richer, higher class/caste section of society with impunity. Money talks in every aspect of life over there - from healthcare to politics.

Edited to add quote above and extra background below

There has been widespread criminal activity in India around organ (esp. kidney) transplants. This wikipedia article details one such case where organs were illegally harvested from living donors:

"...According to the Gurgaon police, the scandal at a local clinic was going on for six to seven years. The donors were lured with offerings of about 30,000 for kidney removal. First, they were lured to the clinic on the pretext of job opportunities. They were instead asked for donating their kidneys for the fee and all those who resisted this were drugged against their will and subsequently operated upon..."

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurgaon_kidney_scandal
 
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Cloudbusting

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Mad stuff.

Wild rumours about coronavirus are fuelling opposition to testing in the northern Indian state of Punjab, reports BBC Punjabi's Arvind Chhabra.

"Human organs are being smuggled," Sonia Kaur, who lives in a village in Punjab's Sangrur district, tells the BBC. "Not just the villagers but the whole world is scared of this. Social media is full of such news."

Ms Kaur says she has heard of people's organs being harvested under the guise of diagnosing and treating coronavirus. She is echoing the fears of countless others in rural Punjab who are sceptical of the virus.

Rumours are flying fast in Punjab that the virus is a hoax, that people who don't have Covid-19 are being taken away to care centres, where they are being killed for their organs, and that bodies are being swapped to allay suspicion.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-54068007
This reminded me of a kind of funny... yet grim faux pas I made in my old job. I was having to look at information/statistics about modern slavery and there was a pie chart showing %'s relating to different forms of human trafficking and modern slavery. The smallest slice of the pie was harvesting and I was surprised thinking, 'oh I thought more victims of modern slavery etc. who would end up in agriculture. Not great obviously but not as bad as I would have thought...'

Little while later I looked at the pie chart again and realised it said ORGAN harvesting :eek: and was obviously mortified/shocked there were any cases whatsoever. I must be naive. Thankfully I realised before saying something embarrassing to a colleague...
 

GNC

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It's because, in south Asia (India, Pakistan etc.,) altruistic organ donation barely exists. It's a paid-for operation with many poor people donating a kidney in exchange for cash and hoping their single one will see them through life. Hence the possibility that organ stealing may happen not being thought of as outlandish as in Europe.

With certain medical conditions being more common among certain ethnic groups (eg diabetes 1 & 2 and its common complication, kidney failure, in people with south Asian heritage) then certain types of organ are in great demand in certain countries. Even very rich people in Europe will pay for organs from another continent if the tissue types match.

Match the propensity to believe rumours (due to less education or a conspiratorial mindset) to the current rate of smartphone ownership and you get the Facebook posts that spread like wildfire. It happens everywhere, but especially in south Asia because for generations, ordinary people have been robbed, shafted, killed and made destitute by the richer, higher class/caste section of society with impunity. Money talks in every aspect of life over there - from healthcare to politics.

Edited to add quote above and extra background below

There has been widespread criminal activity in India around organ (esp. kidney) transplants. This wikipedia article details one such case where organs were illegally harvested from living donors:

"...According to the Gurgaon police, the scandal at a local clinic was going on for six to seven years. The donors were lured with offerings of about 30,000 for kidney removal. First, they were lured to the clinic on the pretext of job opportunities. They were instead asked for donating their kidneys for the fee and all those who resisted this were drugged against their will and subsequently operated upon..."

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurgaon_kidney_scandal
Thankyou very much for the info, so the basis for the panic is in truth? No wonder they get paranoid. Terrible business.
 

EnolaGaia

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Covid-19 test kits sold on the World Bank website in 2018? ...
Factcheck by Reuters: ...
Here's the Associated Press debunking of this rumor ...

CLAIM: World Bank website shows COVID-19 test kits purchased by countries in 2017 and in 2018.

THE FACTS: Social media users are sharing data from the World Integrated Trade Solution website to falsely claim that testing kits for COVID-19 were purchased by countries in 2017 and 2018. The erroneous posts are using the data to suggest that the coronavirus is a hoax spread by global leaders. In fact, the data compiled by the website shows previously existing devices that are now being used to fight the coronavirus. The World Bank along with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and several global trade organizations developed World Integrated Trade Solution — WITS — software to track information on trade and tariffs. The posts began circulating late last week using screenshots from a page on the WITS website that shows test kit exports by country. At the time the posts were first shared, the website said “COVID-19 Test kits (382200) exports by country” in 2017. The website has since clarified the information on the page to say that “data here track previously existing medical devices that are now classified by the World Customs Organization as critical to tackling COVID-19.” The World Bank confirmed to the AP that the products were available before COVID-19 for other uses, but have recently been designated to support COVID-19 efforts. In April, the World Customs Organization and the World Health Organization collaborated to create a list of codes to help speed up the movement of medical supplies that could be used to diagnose and treat COVID-19 across borders. Ventilators, which existed long before the coronavirus, were on a June version of that list, according to The World Bank. “It serves as the basis for identifying the cross-border movement of the products needed during the pandemic, applying contingent tariff and non-tariff relief policies, monitoring and combating falsified supplies, and even for taking responsive actions to address shortages,” the World Customs Organization said in a statement in April. Some posts linked to a chart showing countries’ exports for test kits that rely on polymerase chain reaction testing, PCR. The test kits determine the genetic material of the virus. The tests have been around for more than 30 years. “This has been planned for DECADES!,” one Facebook post said, sharing a screenshot of the data. The false posts online were shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter. Some posts even suggest that the World Bank updating the page was a sign that there was a cover up.
SOURCE: https://apnews.com/e0562c272575dba3ffe8026ccef017cc
 

EnolaGaia

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A blatantly idiotic rumor debunked in the Septmber 4 "Not Real News" compilation from the Associated Press ...

CLAIM: The new vaccine for COVID-19 will be the first of its kind ever. It will be an “MRna vaccine” which will literally alter your DNA. It will wrap itself into your system. You will essentially become a genetically modified human being.

THE FACTS: Experts say mRNA vaccines do not alter your DNA. As researchers work to test vaccines to stop the spread of COVID-19, social media posts are sharing misinformation to sow doubt even before they become available to the public. The posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram suggest that a new coronavirus mRNA vaccine will genetically modify humans. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccine candidates that began phase 3 testing in July both use mRNA. Such vaccines are a new and unproven technology that experts say offer an easier and faster way to produce vaccines compared to traditional methods. They work by introducing a messenger RNA molecule into your body, which causes cells to produce a protein that resembles one of the viral proteins that make up SARS-CoV-2, said Brent R. Stockwell, a Columbia University biology and chemistry professor. “Your immune cells then recognize this viral protein and generate an immune response against it, primarily by generating antibodies that recognize the viral protein,” he said in an email. While there are other concerns with mRNA vaccines, such as the degree and length of protection and possible side effects, Stockwell said, modifying DNA is not one of them. Dr. Dan Culver, a lung specialist at Cleveland Clinic, agreed it’s not possible for an mRNA vaccine to alter your DNA. “This cannot change your genetic makeup,” he said. “The time that this RNA survives in the cells is relatively brief in the span of hours. What you are really doing is sticking a recipe card into the cell making protein for a few hours.”

SOURCE: https://apnews.com/9c30e4877b5a82a7ae7e39608530dcb6
 

EnolaGaia

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Posts relating to politics (e.g., 2020 US elections) removed from sight.

From here onward warnings will be forthcoming for additional "political" posts in this thread.
 

Spookdaddy

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I've been enjoying this typically robust back and forth between the representative of a Glasgow massage parlour and a covidenier:

Glasgow tattoo parlour’s brutal reply as they refuse to ink anti-masker who says virus is hoax
A SCOTS tattoo parlour have been praised for their brutal response to an anti-masker who claimed coronavirus was "a hoax".

Staff at the Archangel 1608 Tattoo Studio in Glasgow refused to ink the punter after claiming the virus and wearing masks was "a con"...
Article here.

The owners attitude seems to be similar to my own: I mean, I don't like them, and look forward to the day I don't need to wear one when I'm in a shop - but, really...how bloody difficult is it to put a bit of cloth over your face every now and again?

'Plus, you get to look like a ninja!'
 

ramonmercado

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Here's mud in your eye!

Politician who claimed bathing in mud and blowing a conch shell gave you immunity to coronavirus tests positive for Covid-19 in India
  • Sukhbir Singh Jaunapuria, politician from Rajasthan, tested positive for Covid
  • He had filmed himself in a puddle with a conch, claiming it prevented disease
  • Jaunapuria is among 24 Indian MPs who have tested positive as outbreak grows
  • Country has now surpassed 5million infections with more than 83,000 deaths
By CHRIS PLEASANCE FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 08:43 BST, 17 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:49 BST, 17 September 2020

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...thing-mud-prevented-Covid-tests-positive.html


 

Ogdred Weary

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I've been enjoying this typically robust back and forth between the representative of a Glasgow massage parlour and a covidenier:



Article here.

The owners attitude seems to be similar to my own: I mean, I don't like them, and look forward to the day I don't need to wear one when I'm in a shop - but, really...how bloody difficult is it to put a bit of cloth over your face every now and again?

'Plus, you get to look like a ninja!'
"Massage parlour"? Freudian slip there?
 

EnolaGaia

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This Business Insider investigative report outlines the ways that misinformation about chlorine dioxide as a COVID preventive treatment has caused chaos in Bolivia - ranging from individual injuries to conflicts raging within the national government.
How an entire nation embraced toxic bleach as a COVID-19 miracle cure after a tide of misinformation that authorities couldn't counter

In Bolivia, lawmakers are pushing through a bill legalizing a form of toxic bleach, chlorine dioxide, as a COVID-19 treatment despite opposition from the country's health ministry.

The substance is called Miracle Mineral Solution by a network of alternative-medicine advocates. Scientists and doctors say it has no medical value and can be deadly.

Across the country, reports are emerging of injuries and deaths of people consuming MMS under the false belief it cures COVID-19.

A German "researcher" with no apparent medical credentials, along with a group of renegade medics, helped popularize MMS there, Business Insider has found.

Analysts say opposition politicians are backing the substance — regardless of the dangers — to exploit growing anger with the embattled government. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.businessinsider.com/bolivia-bleach-coronavirus-embraced-misinformation-2020-9
 

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There was a protest vehicle in Knightsbridge- near the V&A Museum on Saturday. Woman leaning out of the car with a megaphone warning us against the threat of enforced vaccination and erosion of liberties. I think they were trying get people to storm parliament.
 

Spookdaddy

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"Massage parlour"? Freudian slip there?
Ha. Totally busted.

Actually, I found myself looking at the phrase 'tattoo parlour' and thinking that it didn't look right, and wondering if I'd made it up. (In the same way that when I look too hard about words like 'banana' and 'thought' and 'Ghana', they stop looking like real words and start looking suspiciously like figments of my imagination. Does anyone else ever do that?)

I was wondering if I'd got to 'tattoo parlour' by confusing it with 'massage parlour'.

And then I did.
 

Naughty_Felid

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Ha. Totally busted.

Actually, I found myself looking at the phrase 'tattoo parlour' and thinking that it didn't look right, and wondering if I'd made it up. (In the same way that when I look too hard about words like 'banana' and 'thought' and 'Ghana', they stop looking like real words and start looking suspiciously like figments of my imagination. Does anyone else ever do that?)

I was wondering if I'd got to 'tattoo parlour' by confusing it with 'massage parlour'.

And then I did.
yes. I think it's a form of word blindness or dementia. :D
 

Gloucestrian

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Regarding the Google COVID-19 story earlier in this thread, I just checked my aging Huawei device that isn't even getting security updates for Google services and sure enough the COVID-19 exposure notification system is there. Turned off apparently, but I doubt it is really off.
 

Cochise

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Ha. Totally busted.

Actually, I found myself looking at the phrase 'tattoo parlour' and thinking that it didn't look right, and wondering if I'd made it up. (In the same way that when I look too hard about words like 'banana' and 'thought' and 'Ghana', they stop looking like real words and start looking suspiciously like figments of my imagination. Does anyone else ever do that?)

I was wondering if I'd got to 'tattoo parlour' by confusing it with 'massage parlour'.

And then I did.
At least you managed to stop spelling 'bananana' . I've always had a couple of common words I have to think hard how to spell - unfortunatly one of them is 'analyst' .

Bill Gates (or rather his foundation) is now complaining that mishandling of the Corona crisis is damaging ongoing vaccine programs for other diseases.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/corona...ation-programs-gates-report-finds-11600138800
 

Ogdred Weary

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Regarding the Google COVID-19 story earlier in this thread, I just checked my aging Huawei device that isn't even getting security updates for Google services and sure enough the COVID-19 exposure notification system is there. Turned off apparently, but I doubt it is really off.
Where did you find it?
 

Gloucestrian

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Android System Settings > Google Services (signed in to a Google Account). What's interesting is that the fall out of the sanctions against Huawei have been affecting my device. The Google (search) app no longer gets my search history from other devices. This started a few weeks ago after an update to the Google app. Since then I have had no Android updates (or rather none that were notified). However this COVID-19 exposure notification system has been pushed to the device, seemingly more recently than that.

I have another Android phone, a newer LG phone, that I use for testing purposes in my job (I am a software developer), this is signed in to the same Google account and the search app sees history from my desktop computer so it isn't an account issue. The COVID-19 exposure notification system is on the LG phone too but I would expect that as it still gets updates almost daily.
 
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