Covid-19 Disinformation and Social Media Manipulation: Pro-Russian Vaccine Politics Drives New Disinformation Narratives   [open pdf - 0B]

From the Introduction: "On 17 July, a press release was posted to the websites of the Luhansk People's Republic, the pro-Russian self-declared state in Luhansk, Eastern Ukraine. The press release related to a supposed US Covid-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] vaccine trial that had been conducted on Ukrainian volunteers, including soldiers, in Kharkiv (which is controlled by the Ukrainian Government). According to the press release, of the 15 patients who received the trial vaccine, five were killed, including four Ukrainian soldiers. The press release was published the day after Russia announced plans to mass-produce its own vaccine in a matter of weeks. The Ukrainian vaccine trial never happened. However, this disinformation narrative--which has clear political, anti-American and anti-Ukrainian Government undertones--has achieved widespread dissemination in multiple languages and across multiple communities. [...] The success of this completely fictional narrative reflects a broader shift across the disinformation space. As the world's focus moves from the initial response to the coronavirus crisis towards the race to a vaccine, with all of the complex geopolitical interests that entails, political disinformation is also moving on from the origins of the virus to the vaccine race. This report uses the US-Ukrainian vaccine narrative as a case study to examine how political disinformation about Covid-19 vaccines is being laundered into the international information ecosystem."

2020 Australian Strategic Policy Institute Limited
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Australian Strategic Policy Institute: https://www.aspi.org.au/
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