This week again, the Digital Forensic Center has noted numerous pieces of disinformation and new conspiracy theories on corona virus. Besides that, we also initiated new live blog where we are posting the most important information on COVID-19 from Montenegro, region and world. Find the most important events that marked this week in this weekly review.
Dangerous video has been circulating on Facebook
A video which was for the first time posted on Facebook page Danak u krvi u Srbiji has been circulating on Facebook. It aims to convey the message that coronavirus is not a threat. The actors of the video are Wolfgang Wodarg, German pulmonologist and longtime MP of Social Democratic Party of Germany in Bundestag, Tom Jefferson from Cochrane Institute in Denmark and Dr. Michael Kentsch. The three of them are discussing the current situation for German television broadcaster Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (2DF) and are pointing out two theses:
- COVID-19 is not more dangerous than the ordinary flu
- COVID-19 does not require isolation measures, people are needlessly in quarantine without medical explanation
During pandemic, numerous theories have emerged and are being spread on a daily basis. This kind of content is typically characterized by numerous claims, presented as facts which have cause-effect relations, but with no credible proofs.
We are using this opportunity to appeal to all the citizens that the posts of individuals on social media are not a credible source of information on coronavirus. It is necessary to follow the posts and information coming from official and credible addresses such as the Institute for Public Health, Ministry of Health and World Health Organization.
Absence of help
Jerusalem Post posted the alleged statement of an Israeli doctor living and working in Parma. As it is stated in the article, Dr. Peleg said for Channel 12 that due to lack of capacities, Italy is no longer offering any help to people older than 60. It is not possible to find that statement or a similar one in original version. On the other hand, that post was condemned by numerous Italians on Facebook, claiming that it represents fake news.
Russian citizen arrested for spreading disinformation
Russian citizen was arrested in Montenegro for spreading fake news and disinformation on coronavirus. In fact, A.G. (35) posted on one social media that there are around 1000 people infected with coronavirus, that six of them died and that Montenegro is expecting the Italian scenario as well as that the staff of Avala hotel is infected and hospitalized
Creating panic due to coronavirus
In his article for portal Pravda, Velimir Erakovic is explaining the critical situation that Montenegro is in, affected by coronavirus. Article mentions alarming situation in quarantines, breaking privacy rights and alleged hoax concerning moratorium on loans as well as Montenegro being on the verge of bankruptcy due to stoppage of criminal activities because of coronavirus (smuggling of drugs, cigarettes and weapon).
Corona „united“ ex Yugoslavia
Corona „united“ ex Yugoslavia. Take a look at how many posts have been noted by DFC team during the period from March 20 – 26, which hashtags and emoticons are the most popular and which regional media are posting the majority of news on COVID19
We initiated COVID19 live blog
We are receiving news on coronavirus through social media, media and notifications. There are incomplete or false information everywhere, despite the efforts of the officials and media to remove them. Many are confused by that turmoil and are looking for answers. Point of DFC blog is to present in a simple manner the proofs of disinformation and narratives being spread in media and on social media but also to present the official information on pandemic
G7 noted Chinese disinformation campaign
We are receiving news on coronavirus through social media, media and notifications. There are incomplete or false information everywhere, despite the efforts of the officials and media to remove them. Many are confused by that turmoil and are looking for answers. Point of DFC blog is to present in a simple manner the proofs of disinformation and narratives being spread in media and on social media but also to present the official information on pandemic.
During coronavirus pandemic, citizens and media are being faced with numerous pieces of disinformation. When it comes to Western Balkans, around 245 thousand articles referring to coronavirus have been noted during last 30 days. Our colleague, Milan Jovanovic, was explaining for RTCG the dangers of fake news in pandemic period.
Man who died in Lazio is not a Montenegrin citizen
Some Montenegrin and Serbian media posted fake news that a man who died in Lazio (33) is a Montenegrin citizen and also the youngest victim of corona virus in that region. It was stated form Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro that the information conveyed by particular Montenegrin media, referring to Italian site and posts on social media is not true.
Deep state, baba Vanga and coronavirus
Week behind us is marked by numerous conspiracy theories. One of the Democratic Front leaders, Nebojsa Medojevic, claims that the whole crisis provoked by COVID-19 is only the artificial project that a deep state lies behind and that the point is to create chaos in Europe, especially in Orthodoxy. Appearing on the YouTube show „Intervju – u Centar“, Medojevic pointed out that the same mighty leaders are lying behind moving of the military formations ISIL to Europe, which media present as „migrant issue.“
On the other hand, in a debatable article published on Serbian portal Telegraf and after that on portal Politika Ekspres, it is claimed that baba Vanga predicted COVID19. These two articles reached more than 30 Facebook groups, which together have more than 2 million people.
Sputnik: It is possible that virus was made in order to reduce Italian population
Sputnik team from Latvia, in the article published on March 15 is presenting numerous non-founded conspiracy theories on coronavirus. Starting from the idea that COVID-19 originates from Latvia, to the one that it is made in order to reduce the number of old persons in Italy. The argument which is supporting their claim is that Italy has a large number of retired people, who are burdening the budget with their incomes.
Conte became Bolsonaro
Viral post on Facebook, allegedly containing the statement of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, is fake.
“We lost control. I don’t understand what else we could do, all the possible solutions on Earth have been used. Our only hope is in Heaven, God save your people.”
Post is displaying the alleged photography of Conte.
It turned out that the quotation is made up. It cannot be found on any credible website through Google search, and the message does not correlate with the recent measures that Italy took. It should be added that the President of Brazil Bolsonaro is on the photo, and not the person whose statement is conveyed.
Even though Facebook marked it as fake, the post has been spread on social media.
Poland banned the transit for Russians airplanes
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Warsaw did not block any plane to Italy, adding that Polish airspace remains open for transit. The responses followed after the tweet of Russian Senator Alexey Pushkov who claimed that the Russian plane to Italy, loaded with goods for fighting coronavirus, was obliged to take a turn after the authorities banned the entrance into the Polish airspace.
After the official démenti, Senator deleted his tweet.
Coordinated „attacks“ on Holy Communion
In the article on portal Srbin.info, it is claimed that media in Serbia and Montenegro are attacking the Serbian Orthodox Church in a coordinate manner, due to religious gatherings and Communion with one teaspoon.
They also state that „making people decide between health and freedom of religion is nothing but a dangerous manipulation which should justify totalitarian order.
The authorities from all around the world are banning and punishing all kinds of gatherings, not as a sign of Totalitarianism but as a way to prevent spreading of virus.
Two pieces of news are the best reflection of a danger that the gatherings of any kind, including the religious, represent in this moment.
The first one is the fact that Milutin, Bishop of Valjevo and two priests of this eparchy were infected with coronavirus this week during liturgy. In the official announcement of the eparchy it is stated that „he, as a faithful shepherd, walked and served his eparchy, the way that he has been serving God and mankind for more than half of a century.“
The other one is the piece of news that Pope Francis began his extraordinary Urbi et orbi on Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican where he prays for the end of coronavirus pandemic and gives his complete forgiveness to believers. In normal circumstances, the Square would be full of people listening to Pope’s message but yesterday – there was no one.