Brussels first sounded the alarm about coronavirus pandemic-related misinformation and disinformation in early summer. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by an unprecedented ‘infodemic,'” said European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourava. The disinformation campaigns were not only dangerous for public health; they were also designed to undermine trust in governments and the media.
The commissioner referred to the sharp increase in the number of opponents of vaccination, known as “anti-vaxxers” — in Germany. According to one study, the number of those prepared to be vaccinated decreased by 20% in two months. The commission also saw the false claim that drinking bleach can help against the virus, which is widespread on social media, as a further attempt at deliberate deception. “Disinformation during the coronavirus pandemic can kill,” said EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell.
Unsubstantiated conspiracy theories have also become widespread since the pandemic began. A common theory falsely claims that the virus was spread as a pretext for forced mass vaccination; another one alleges that the pandemic is a way for Microsoft founder Bill Gates, working together with the EU, to monitor people.
“Anti-vaxxer” demonstrations have become more common in Germany, with targeted disinformation campaigns circulating unsubstantiated claims about vaccination effects
Propaganda and cyberattacks
To counter these campaigns, the European Parliament has set up a special committee that has now set to