the home of online investigations

You can support the work of Bellingcat by donating through the following link:

The Coronavirus Disinformation System: How It Works

March 25, 2020

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Besides viruses, what else is terribly contagious? Lies, of course.

As the coronavirus pandemic engulfs the world, disinformation associated with the virus has taken on many forms. Whether it’s your uncle sending you a Tom Hanks meme at 4 a.m. or the current occupant of the White House lying about Barack Obama supposedly harming the CDC’s testing system — disinformation in a time like this only adds confusion to an already palpable sense of fear.

Together with Newsy, Bellingcat — and, specifically, Bellingcat investigator Robert Evans — help you categorize the kinds of lies that are being pushed about the pandemic right now.

Why is this important? Because even seemingly “harmless” disinformation normalizes the distortion of reality, with potentially deadly consequences.

Note: Earlier this month, the Newsy + Bellingcat team won the prestigious Scripps Howard Award for Innovation.

Bellingcat Investigation Team

The Bellingcat Investigation Team is an award winning group of volunteers and full time investigators who make up the core of the Bellingcat's investigative efforts.

Join the Bellingcat Mailing List:

Enter your email address to receive a weekly digest of Bellingcat posts, links to open source research articles, and more.

25 Comments

  1. Amused

    What a deep, valuable, truth-revealing article, wow. 🙂 you forgot to add the next part or it’s just you to show off ?

    Reply
  2. Damian

    tl;dr
    disinformation relating to COVID-19 can be broken down into four types:
    1. Generic disinformation
    2. Credible Sources sharing disinformation
    3. Fake Credible disinformation
    4. Profiteers
    Public should verify any ‘information’ with the World Health Organisation or Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Reply
  3. James Rowlands

    You missed one type of misinformation that I’ve seen a number of examples of. Right wingers are yet again impersonating groups that they want to slander, in particular the Chinese and are making racist caricatures out of them, to encourage racism and to sow division.

    Reply
    • Bruce

      Hey James, what about the left-wing efforts to undermine the President with all sorts of half-truths and lies (nee CNN, MSNBC, etc.). I honestly don’t think any one group can throw rocks at others since all sides appear to be spreading their own version of the truth

      Reply
  4. Ciaran Goggins

    Try the UK, they changed the system for counting cases. Glad to see 77th Bde still paying you;)

    Reply
    • Derek

      MrRosewater is that you?
      Taking a break from accusing people on the Independent discussions of being 77th brigade?

      Reply
  5. Nisiroo

    Mr. Evans: Good analysis. However, you neglected to point out that WHO has & is being manipulated by the Chinese government. China is to blame for unleashing this virus either intentionally or out of sheer negligence. Either way, China should not be given a pass. WHO has white-washed this fact, out of sheer pressure from the Chinese government, WHO’s messaging is not not providing a full picture of how this virus was unleashed to the world. The message is being manipulated by the Chinese government. By shifting blame, further chaos is spread. And since it’s an election year, the democrats are going to take advantage of this messaging & pile on big time. This mess started in China. Your analysis doesn’t point out any of this.

    Reply
  6. duplicitousdemocracy

    If these lies are so easy to spot, how come you lot get took in by them so often?Grow a beard and throw a Kalashnikov over your shoulder and bellingcat believes every word.

    Reply
  7. Somnath De

    It is advised that alcohol based hand- sanitizer is to be used.But some persons are taking alcohol to stave off corona.Yes some are resorting to take alibi also.__——-
    Disinformation.

    Reply
  8. Nisiroo

    Mr. Evans: Good analysis. However, first you deleted my comment. Second, you neglected to point out that WHO has & is being manipulated by the Chinese government. China is to blame for unleashing this virus either intentionally or out of sheer negligence. Either way, China should not be given a pass. WHO has white-washed this fact, out of sheer pressure from the Chinese government. WHO’s messaging is not providing a full picture of how this virus was unleashed to the world. The message is being manipulated by the Chinese government. They are the most significant perpetrator of disinformation. By shifting blame, further chaos is spread. And since it’s an election year, the democrats are going to take advantage of this messaging & pile on big time. This mess started in China. Your analysis doesn’t point out any of this.

    Reply
  9. Andrea

    Thank you for this. I would enjoy a link to show further examples and recommendations for truthful sources. Thank you again.

    Reply
  10. Mike

    I’m willing to bet US superpower adversaries are the sources of many mis/dis campaigns and are using this pandemic as an opportunity to influence perceptions of each other for political game.

    How much of these campaigns deemed as intentional mis/dis efforts can we tie back to Chinese or Russian troll farms?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

You can support the work of Bellingcat by donating through the following link:

TRUST IN JOURNALISM - IMPRESS