China COVID-19 bio weapon conspiracy linked to QAnon and pro-Trump social media

coronavirus bio weapon : Coordinated networks of pro-trump and qanon supporters are behind organised efforts to disseminate disinformation about covid-19, australian research has found.

China COVID-19 bio weapon conspiracy linked to qanon and pro-trump social media

Claims that the virus was engineered in a chinese laboratory then unleashed on the world have been going viral for months, in part egged on by the us president donald trump as he ramps up his rhetoric against china.

Now the australia institute’s centre for responsible technology has analysed the source of more than 25.5 million retweets of 2.6 million tweets on this conspiracy theory over a 10 day period in march.

“the vast majority of coordinated accounts spreading the bioweapon theory identify themselves as pro-trump, qanon and/or republican partisan,“ said peter lewis, director of the centre for responsible technology.

“this deep data dive provides a real-time snapshot of how a conspiracy theory is politicised and spread from the margins to the mainstream.”

The data were collected by the queensland university of technology, leading to the conclusion in the report like a virus: the coordinated spread of coronavirus disinformation that the spread of the bioweapon theory on twitter resembled a coordinated astroturfing campaign.

Only one in every 30 clusters of accounts coordinating on the coronavirus bio weapon conspiracy theory could be traced to broad left-wing or pro-democrat accounts, lewis said.

Denials don’t help

Perhaps what is most disturbing in the report’s findings is that when mainstream media and prominent social media actors engage with the conspiracy theory – even to dispel it critically – it reinforces the misinformation.

“engagement by celebrities, journalists, politicians, media outlets, state authorities, and others with large followings substantially amplifies the visibility of the conspiracy theory,” the report concluded.

“official denials and corrections can perversely be exploited by the conspiracy theorists to claim that authorities are covering up ‘the real truth’.”

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