The Conspiracy Virus: COVID-19 misinformation in the US | The Listening Post

On The Listening Post this week: How a conspiracy documentary hijacked US social media and fuelled misinformation on COVID-19. Plus: Peru and the art of digital homeschooling.

COVID-19 misinformation in US
So much about this pandemic remains unknown, which is why reporting on it is so challenging. A lack of scientific consensus, heavy-handed government policies, and lockdown-induced economic woes have resulted in a wave of fear, anxiety, and powerlessness – perfect conditions for misinformation and conspiracy theories to thrive.

The US is ground zero for a lot of these theories, not least because the president and outlets like Fox News have long trafficked in them. There is a market for conspiracy theories; one that can turn a discredited scientist and an obscure filmmaker into an internet phenomenon.

The Listening Post takes a look at ‘Plandemic’ – the viral sensation of COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

Contributors:

Joe Uscinski – co-author, American Conspiracy Theories

Joan Donovan – research director, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University

Will Sommer – tech reporter, The Daily Beast

Jared Yates Sexton – author & analyst

On our radar:
Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Nic Muirhead about a recent buyout in Italy meaning that Fiat automobiles now controls one of Italy’s biggest newspapers – La Repubblica – and with it, a shift in editorial tone.

Listen, Watch, Learn: Peru’s school system takes to airwaves
In many countries, it is still far too early to send children back to school. Take Peru, for instance; with more than 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, it has the second most of any Latin American country, behind Brazil.

One area where Peru seems to have fared better is education. Within three weeks of declaring a national lockdown, and with the collaboration of both public and private broadcasters, the Peruvian government brought to air Aprendo en Casa, or I Learn at Home – six hours of educational programming, every weekday.

The goal is to make the entirety of both the primary and secondary school curricula available to all students, including the millions without TV and internet access.

The Listening Post’s Meenakshi Ravi takes a look at Aprendo en Casa – the TV and radio platform that is schooling Peruvian kids during lockdown.

Contributors:

Ernesto Cortes – general manager, RPP Group

Diana Marchena – planning coordinator, Education Ministry of Peru

Víctor Zapata – Lima-based secondary school teacher

Fátima Saldonid – presenter, Aprendo en Casa & Broadcaster, TV Perú

Marlith Norabuena – rural school teacher

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In This Story: Brazil

Brazil is the largest country in both South America and Latin America.

Its capital is Brasília, and its most populous city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states and the Federal District. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas, as well as the most populous Roman Catholic-majority country.

Its Amazon basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats. Brazil is classified as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank and a newly industrialized country.

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  • In This Story: COVID-19

    Covid-19 is the official WHO name given to the novel coronavirus which broke out in late 2019 and began to spread in the early months of 2020.

    Symptoms of coronavirus

    The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

    • a persistent new cough (non productive, dry)
    • a high temperature (e.g. head feels warm to the touch)
    • shortness of breath (if this is abnormal for the individual, or increased)

    Latest News about Covid-19

    Below are stories from around the globe related to the 2020 outbreak of novel Coronavirus – since the WHO gave the Covid-19 naming. Most recent items are posted nearest the top.

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  • In This Story: Italy

    Italy is a republic in central Europe which forms a peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea as well as bordering France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The islands of Sardinia and Sicily form part of the main territory of Italy. Italy is part of the Eurozone, having entered the common currency on 1st January 1999.

    The capital, Rome, is home to the Vatican as well as landmark art and ancient ruins. Other major cities include Florence, with Renaissance masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s “David” and Brunelleschi’s Duomo; Venice, the city of canals; and Milan, Italy’s fashion capital.

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  • In This Story: Lockdown

    During the 2020 Covid-19 epidemic, lockdown has come to mean the practice of attempting to control transmission of the virus by means of restricting people’s movement and activities on a broad scale, usually on a national or state-wide basis.

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  • In This Story: Peru

    Peru is a country in South America that’s home to a section of Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city high in the Andes mountains. The region around Machu Picchu, including the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail and colonial city of Cusco, is rich in archaeological sites. On Peru’s arid Pacific coast is Lima, the capital, with a preserved colonial center and important collections of pre-Columbian art. 

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