Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Almost as Ugly as the Virus Itself

Cartoon: Alex Bowman

The spread of coronavirus is frightening especially because there is still so much we don’t know about the virus. This has created an environment where conspiracy theories have exploded across social media creating a dangerous scenario for governments seeking to build trust, and an opportunity for those wanting to create chaos. As Foreign Policy Magazine explained,

“Long dismissed as absurd, conspiracy theorists on social media are increasingly posing a potential global threat—and becoming an asset for states looking to disrupt the geopolitical narrative and spread disinformation.”

But this is why disinformation is so successful. As the New York Times wrote last week,

“The belief that one is privy to forbidden knowledge offers feelings of certainty and control amid a crisis that has turned the world upside down. And sharing that “knowledge” may give people something that is hard to come by after weeks of lockdowns and death: a sense of agency.”

Why This Matters: Here in the United States we, unfortunately, have a leader who is looking to spread chaos and stoke division. President Trump has been fanning the flames of coronavirus conspiracy theories and his followers (as well as many other Americans) take this as the truth as it’s coming from our commander-in-chief. While medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have commented on the likely cause of COVID-19 (live animal wet markets) the truth is whatever one wants it to be on social media.

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