Fake news have posed a grave threat to societies, the economy and politics long before the Coronavirus. As a result mistrust has spread. Today, people distrust not only politicians, but doctors too. The only solution is increased international cooperation.
Disinformation has been a major issue affecting politics, the economy and societies for the past years – consider the amount of fake news spread by the current US president – and began prior to the Corona crisis. However, since Covid-19 dominates world events, the spread of disinformation has increased exponentially. So much so that the World Health Organization now speaks of an “Infodemic”. A recent study by the polling institute Kantar, commissioned by the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation for Freedom, confirms the hypothesis. Over half of all Germans are concerned about the deliberate spread of false information.
Internationally, this number grows to 74 percent. The conspiracy theories that have taken hold are as sensational as they are regionally different: the belief that the virus is a Chinese bioweapon, that Bill Gates is more powerful than governments or that 5G network expansion is to blame for the spread of the virus.
Trust in Doctors and Politicians is Decreasing
Particularly alarming is the internationally decreasing trust in not only politicians, but doctors too. 70 percent of Germans believe that false information regarding the virus is damaging trust in both fields. The consequences of mis- and disinformation can be startling: during the early months of the pandemic, multiple people died because they drank disinfectant, believing it to cure the Covid-19.