The virus showed us how dangerous politicians came to power with fake news


Before they pretended that the Covid 19 problem did not exist, they diminished it by calling it little more than an influence, they went on their way ignoring the opinions of scientists and experts. Then, with the ongoing disaster, they evoked the plot without presenting evidence or entrenched themselves in denial.The leaders of the four states that according to World Health Organization data have the most coronavirus-infected states – the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and Brazil – have managed the pandemic using the same strategy that brought them to power or consolidated strength: polluting the public debate, making massive use of fake news and ignoring any real data. Except that the virus is not the algorithm of a social network: even if you invent a bale, it continues to infect. And the result of this method of power management is now there for all to see.

The thread of forgery that unites these four powerful ones dates back to before the last emergency. During the 2016 Brexit referendum, current British Prime Minister Boris Johnson went around getting photographed next to the slogan “We give £ 350 million to Europe a week. Let’s use them for our national health service. ” This message, printed in block letters on a bus that traveled around the country, was false: the United Kingdom did not pay the EU to £ 350 million a week, but about 250. And an important part of this money was returned to British citizens with EU-funded programs. In addition to being incorrect, it is also impossible to say that the funds saved can really be used for the national health service, given that leaving the Union entails enormous direct and indirect costs on the English economy. Despite these “denials”, a survey conducted by King’s College London has shown that 42 percent of people still believe this statement “true” today.

The book Fake news, hater and ...

The book “Fake news, hater and cyberbullying” in bookstores from May 28th

Even more strategic has been the use of disinformation by the President of the United States Donald Trump who, as explained by an analysis of the New York Times on the more than 11 thousand tweets that “The Donald” has written since he was in office, in over the years he has relaunched conspiracy theories (protagonists of 1,700 of his tweets), falsehoods against migrants, fakes about electoral fraud that would have penalized him or the Obama family who would have illegally intercepted him, up to Chinese conspiracies and comparisons with colds seasonal.

Jair Bolsonaro was inspired by his example during the presidential elections won in Brazil in 2018, in which the false information sent via WhatsApp played an important role: it is not surprising that today his son Carlos is being investigated as a suspected chief of a network involved in spread of fake news. And with the industrial production of false information, Vladimir Putin and Russia, which for years has invested millions in this sector, with structures such as the “Internet Research Agency (IRA)”, which has become famous for its work of polluting the presidential elections American. Perhaps the coronavirus will be a post-truth vaccine.

This article is taken from the book “Fake news, haters and cyberbullying” by Mauro Munafò, with illustrations by Marta Pantaleo (Centaura Libri, in bookstores from Thursday 28 May)

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