New Wave of Misinformation Is Far More Troubling Than Trump’s ‘Chinese Virus’

As the media rages about the “Chinese virus” that President Trump keeps mentioning, there are far more harmful rumors and lies out there. With companies like Facebook and YouTube sending content moderators home, who knows what we’re ingesting.
Donald Trump
Donald Trump's "Chinese virus" should not be our biggest our concerns. | Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon
  • The media condemns President Trump for using the term ‘Chinese virus’ to describe the coronavirus. However, the media often misses the real threat. Misinformation.
  • We’ve seen Facebook send content moderators home, putting machines in charge of deciding what is and what isn’t “fake news.”
  • Social media is rampant with misinformation on the origins of the coronavirus, including how it spreads and how to combat it.

People can’t seem to stop talking about President Trump using the term “Chinese virus.” He says he’s using the term because China attempted to blame the coronavirus on U.S. soldiers.

When pressed on why he insists on using the term President Trump commented:

‘Cause it comes from China. It’s not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China, that’s why. I want to be accurate. I have great love for all of the people from our country, but as you know China tried to say at one point, that it was caused by American soldiers. That can’t happen. It’s not gonna happen, not as long as I’m President. It comes from China.

While the Media Focus on President Trump, Misinformation Runs Rampant

I can understand why the media tries to fill much of their columns with Trump news. He sells. Like him or hate him, most people have a strong opinion on the guy.

The problem is, while we’re all discussing how racist the use of the term “Chinese virus” is, the online world is being infested with harmful Chinese whispers.

Remember back in 2016, when Facebook ramped up the number of content moderators it employed to fight against the spread of misinformation? Well, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter recently announced that they had sent thousands of content moderators home due to the coronavirus.

Source: Twitter

Imagine the effect this will have on the pandemic-related content we’ll see on those platforms.

Rumors on the Origin of the “Chinese Virus” Range From Mildly Amusing to Downright Ridiculous

Over the past month or so, there have been coronavirus origin theories that include the use of 5G, billionaire tech moguls, and borderline racist immigration nonsense.

One article even claimed the coronavirus was a bioweapon smuggled from Canada by China. It’s a prime example of how a ridiculous theory can grow legs when left unchecked.

Where do you even begin? | Source: Twitter

Initially published by a low-rank Indian geopolitical site, the story was far-reaching enough to be picked up by ZeroHedge. Before long, the theory saw almost 25,000 social media reposts.

This all spread before the Canadian authorities even knew the story was out there, let alone had any time to counter it. Soon after, several US-based anti-China political websites were carrying the theory.

Anti-China rhetoric has already made its mark on the streets of the U.S. I doubt these instances will lessen any time soon. While the threat of the coronavirus is very real, the misinformation surrounding it could be just as dangerous.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.

Aaron Weaver edited this article for CCN.com. If you see a breach of our Code of Ethics or find a factual, spelling, or grammar error, please contact us.