March 2, 2024

How should we tackle conspiracy theories about Covid-19?

Google and Facebook have censored a conspiracy video

Mikki Willis interviewing Dr. Judy Mikovits in Plandemic

Back in 1890, the European edition of the New York Herald reported that the new-fangled electric light might be responsible for a global influenza outbreak. After all, “the disease has raged chiefly in towns where the electric light is in common use,” it said, and went on to note that the disease “has everywhere attacked telegraph employees.”

Not so different from today, except that these speculations would appear on YouTube and Facebook.

People have an existential need for both truth and safety, so it’s not surprising that uncertainty is fostering a wide and wild variety of theories about the “Global Health Mafia Protection Racket”.  

But as with the virus itself, stopping mad and bad conspiracies from circulating is painful, difficult and controversial.

At the moment, the single most powerful vector for transmitting the conspiracy virus is a 26-minute video starring a virologist named Judy Mikovits. It is a teaser for a longer documentary called Plandemic: The Hidden Agenda Behind Covid-19 to be released soon. The film is based on her book, written with journalist Kent Heckenlively, Plague of Corruption: Restoring Faith in the Promise of Science.

Plandemic makes a few startling claims, mostly based on the authority of Dr Mikovits. Much of the teaser is devoted to establishing her credentials as an authority-defying whistleblower whose work has been suppressed by the medical establishment, including the leading American voice in the fight against the virus, Dr Anthony Fauci. Amongst her observations in the teaser are these claims:

  • Vaccines have killed millions of people since 1984
  • The coronavirus was manipulated in Fort Detrick, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the Wuhan laboratory in China, where it first emerged.
  • Wearing masks activates the virus
  • Italy had a high fatality rate because of an untested flu vaccine
  • Microbes in sea water can heal COVID-19 patients
  • Flu vaccines increase the chance of contracting COVID-19 by 36%.

Claims like this were deemed dangerous by Google and Facebook and the video was removed from their sites. They said that they were weeding out “content that includes medically unsubstantiated diagnostic advice” about Covid-19. A search on YouTube for the video – which attracted millions of hits in just a few days – now yields only refutations of a video that no longer exists. The PlandemicMovie website is no longer accessible.

The claims made in the video have been fact-checked in Science, the New York Times, Retraction Watch, PoliFact, and elsewhere.

A lot is at stake. It’s not just a squabble over academic theories. As a New York Times journalist pointed out, “What if we get a Covid-19 vaccine and half the country refuses to take it?” Nor is that a rhetorical question. One site has already garnered 400,000 signatures on a petition to reject mandatory vaccination.

So Plandemic is nowhere to be seen (except here) and everywhere refuted – the most draconian form of social media social distancing. The question now is whether censorship will result in fewer people believing its claims — or more.

Time will tell – eventually it became clear that light globes did not cause the flu.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge 

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