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Facts Matter: Misinformation on the Virus is Proving Highly Contagious

first_imgRather than fade away in the face of new evidence, the claims have flourished, fed by mixed messages from officials, transmitted by social media, amplified by some leaders and mutating when confronted with contradictory facts. Then there are the political theories—that doctors, journalists and federal officials are conspiring to lie about the threat of the virus to hurt Trump politically. The phenomenon, unfolding largely on social media, escalated this week when President Donald Trump retweeted a false video about an anti-malaria drug being a cure for the virus and it was revealed that Russian intelligence is spreading disinformation about the crisis through English-language websites. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman) Social media has amplified the claims and helped believers find each other. The flood of misinformation has posed a challenge for Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, which have found themselves accused of censorship for taking down virus misinformation. Associated Press writers Beatrice Dupuy in New York, Eric Tucker in Washington, and Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this report.AP Dr. Maitiu O Tuathail of Ireland grew so concerned about mask misinformation he posted an online video of himself comfortably wearing a mask while measuring his oxygen levels. The video has been viewed more than 20 million times. “People only want to hear what they already think they know,” she said. Many of the claims around masks allege harmful effects, such as blocked oxygen flow or even a greater chance of infection. The claims have been widely debunked by doctors. Twitter and Facebook began removing the video on Monday for violating policies on COVID-19 misinformation, but it had already been seen more than 20 million times. Early in the pandemic, medical authorities themselves were the source of much confusion regarding masks. In February, officials like the U.S. surgeon general urged Americans not to stockpile masks because they were needed by medical personnel and might not be effective in everyday situations. New York City resident Carlos Lopez said he wears a mask when required to do so but doesn’t believe it is necessary. The truth: Federal regulators last month revoked their authorization of the drug as an emergency treatment amid growing evidence it doesn’t work and can have deadly side effects. Even if it were effective, it wouldn’t negate the need for masks and other measures to contain the outbreak. “While face masks don’t lower your oxygen levels. COVID definitely does,” he warned. He is in the minority. A recent AP/NORC poll found that 3 in 4 Americans—Democrats and Republicans alike—support a national mask mandate. A professionally made 26-minute video that alleges the government’s top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, manufactured the virus and shipped it to China was watched more than 8 million times before the platforms took action. The video, titled “Plandemic,” also warned that masks could make you sick—the false claim Facebook cited when it removed the video down from its site. “The message early on became confusing,” he said. This week, U.S. government officials speaking on condition of anonymity cited what they said was a clear link between Russian intelligence and websites with stories designed to spread disinformation on the coronavirus in the West. Russian officials rejected the accusations. Of all the bizarre and myriad claims about the virus, those regarding masks are proving to be among the most stubborn.center_img “You don’t need masks. There is a cure,” Dr. Stella Immanuel promised in a video that promoted hydroxychloroquine. “You don’t need people to be locked down.” Yet trusted medical authorities are often being dismissed by those who say requiring people to wear masks is a step toward authoritarianism. “It is a real challenge in terms of trying to get the message to the public about what they can really do to protect themselves and what the facts are behind the problem., said Michael Osterholm, head of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. Public health officials changed their tune when it became apparent that the virus could spread among people showing no symptoms. Other baseless theories and hoaxes have alleged that the virus isn’t real or that it’s a bioweapon created by the U.S. or its adversaries. One hoax from the outbreak’s early months claimed new 5G towers were spreading the virus through microwaves. Another popular story held that Microsoft founder Bill Gates plans to use COVID-19 vaccines to implant microchips in all 7 billion humans on the planet. As the world races to find a vaccine and a treatment for COVID-19, there is seemingly no antidote in sight for the burgeoning outbreak of coronavirus conspiracy theories, hoaxes, anti-mask myths and sham cures. The president only recently began wearing a mask in public.The mixed signals hurt, Fauci acknowledged on an interview with NPR this month. Hard-hit Florida reported 216 deaths, breaking the single-day record it set a day earlier. And South Carolina’s death toll passed 1,500 this week, more than doubling over the past month. Still, mask skeptics are a vocal minority and have come together to create social media pages where many false claims about mask safety are shared. Facebook has removed some of the pages—such as the group Unmasking America!, which had nearly 10,000 members—but others remain. A video of a woman attacking a mask display at an Arizona Target received almost 84,000 likes on Twitter. He said the fear is that “people are putting themselves in harm’s way because they don’t believe the virus is something they have to deal with.” Experts worry the torrent of bad information is dangerously undermining efforts to slow the virus, whose death toll in the U.S. hit 150,000 Wednesday, by far the highest in the world, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Over a half-million people have died in the rest of the world. Many of the claims in Immanuel’s video are widely disputed by medical experts. She has made even more bizarre pronouncements in the past, saying that cysts, fibroids and some other conditions can be caused by having sex with demons, that McDonald’s and Pokemon promote witchcraft, that alien DNA is used in medical treatments, and that half-human “reptilians” work in the government. “They’re politicizing it as a tool,” he said. “I think it’s more to try to get Trump to lose. It’s more a scare tactic.” That’s not surprising, according to University of Central Florida psychology professor Chrysalis Wright, who studies misinformation. She said conspiracy theory believers often engage in mental gymnastics to make their beliefs conform with reality. ___ O Tuathail witnessed just how unshakable COVID-19 misinformation can be when, after broadcasting his video, he received emails from people who said he cheated, or didn’t wear the mask long enough to feel the negative effects. Judy Mikovits, the discredited doctor behind “Plandemic,” had been set to appear on the show “America This Week” on the Sinclair Broadcast Group. But the company, which operates TV stations in 81 U.S. markets, canned the segment, saying it was “not appropriate” to air.last_img read more

 

DLP expresses solidarity with China

first_imgLocalNews DLP expresses solidarity with China by: Dominica Vibes News – August 19, 2015 Dominica Labour Party’s International Secretary Alvin Bernard presenting the letter of solidarity to Chinese Ambassador to Dominica Li Jiagning (photo compliments: Office of the Prime Minister)The Dominica Labour Party (DLP) has presented a letter of solidarity to the Chinese people who were victim to a tragic incident in Tianjin earlier this week.Two massive explosions in the port of Tianjin, northern China, have killed more than a hundred people, left hundreds more injured and devastated large areas of the city.They took place at a warehouse at the port which contained hazardous and flammable chemicals, including calcium carbide, sodium cyanide, potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate and sodium nitrate.Officials say it is not yet clear what triggered the blasts as investigations are ongoing, however according to Chinese media, at least one member of staff from Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics, which owns the warehouse, has been arrested.On Wednesday 19 August 2015, the Dominica Labour Party’s International Secretary Alvin Bernard along with Senator Edward Ed Registe, and head of the Labour Women’s Organization Athenia Henry presented the letter of solidarity to Chinese Ambassador to Dominica Li Jiangning.“We are here…to extend our solidarity…through you to your government and the people of the People’s Republic of China, and in particular the people in Tianjin, who were affected by this unfortunate tragedy a few days ago,” Mr Bernard said. “We have always pledge our friendship to the People’s Republic of China and as our Prime Minister has said many times, we are friends in good times and in bad times,” he continued.Mr Bernard said the DLP saw it necessary to “extend this little gesture just to re-ensure you that we are there with you and we share your grief” during this time of sorrow and lost.Chinese Ambassador to Dominica, Li Jiangning who received the delegation at the Embassy in Morne Daniel, expressed gratitude for the kind gesture.“It’s in times of these difficulties, like pain and sorrow, that the kind words from a good friend, from the country…that mean a lot to us,” the Ambassador said.He noted that the Chinese government is investigating this “very tragic accident” which will take more time.“The Chinese government has put a lot of effort to deal with that accident, to care for the injured, for search and rescue, and to take care of the families,” he said.The Ambassador noted that they will also be “looking for how to learn from this accident and correct the mistakes and to do things better, including management, in this area of dangerous products”. He said while dangerous products are “very important in the development of the economy and the industry” they are also dangerous so it has to be taken care of. “So there will be many progresses in the future so that with solidarity and support from our friends, we will do a very good job in this and of course Dominica is a very good friend,” Ambassador Li said. Photographs compliments The Office of the Prime Minister: – / 4 Sharing is caring! Tweet Sharecenter_img Share 122 Views   no discussions Sharelast_img read more