There’s nothing wrong with a good conspiracy theory. We’ve all read conspiracies on why 9/11 was an inside job, and how Area 51 is being used to house aliens. We may even entertain the fact that it could be true. But, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, as global panic heightens, misinformation and fake news have plagued social media, particularly dominating in WhatsApp threads that are followed by a much older – and less social media savvy – generation.
In an age where news spreads like wildfire, and fake news even faster, here are some theories that have unfortunately amassed widespread believers:
Yes, a popular theory dominating the internet is that the mobile network 5G is responsible for the coronavirus pandemic. Concerns surrounding the roll-out of 5G pre-dates the outbreak, stemming from a host of health and security issues that have since been debunked. As Wuhan – the centre of the outbreak – is a city that has 5G installed, many believe this to be a sign that the network is responsible for the virus. No scientific evidence has been found to support this claim, considering Wuhan is not the only city to have launched 5G.
In one video that went viral online, a woman was shown to be eating a bat as part of a soup dish. This quickly sparked racist outrage online with many calling out China for indulging in different types of cuisine. As a demographic that has unfortunately been exposed to heightened amounts of discrimination since the outbreak, the video became another source of fake news attempting to further stigmatise the community. In reality, the video wasn’t even based in China and the woman was identified as a travel show host visiting Palau.
It’s clear that we’ve all seen way too many films. There have been several unfounded claims that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was responsible for creating the virus. The claims were found in The Washington Post which were later debunked. Other theories claim that Russia is behind a ‘disinformation campaign’ to spread lies alleging that the virus was created by the CIA. The internet has particularly enjoyed this theory arguing that reasons from reducing population growth to political and economic gain could be behind the creation of the biological weapon. However, according to global virus expert Trevor Bedford, the virus shows no evidence of genetic engineering and appears to have evolved naturally.
The End is Nigh
If all religions have one thing in common, it’s that doom and gloom is inevitable. For some of the world’s most devout, the pandemic is a sign of divine retribution in response to the rotten state of humanity. Many have used this excuse to keep places of worship open, claiming that prayer will shield them from contracting the virus. In one church in Greece, clerics encouraged worshippers to continue taking holy communion as Jesus never got sick. Again, no scientific evidence has been found to prove this.
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