Weaponized: How Rumors About COVID-19’s Origins Led to a Narrative Arms Race

Reading disinformation about COVID-19In a recently released report from the DFRLab of the Atlantic Council of the United States, researchers analyzed the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disinformation being spread about the disease. Titled Weaponized: How Rumors About COVID-19’s Origins Led to a Narrative Arms Race, the study “focuses on how varying, unverified, and outright false narratives that the virus was a bioweapon or the result of a lab accident spread globally on social media and beyond, and the geopolitical consequences of those narratives.”

The report examines four countries as case studies: the United States, Russia, China, and Iran. In each case, the researchers attempt to show how the disinformation originated, as well as how the narratives were able to spread. In Russia, China, and Iran, the analysis shows that the false narratives were often directed towards blaming the United States for creating COVID-19 as a bioweapon. Conversely, the false information originating from the U.S. was centered around accusing the Chinese government.

For more information on topics related to this piece, check out the COVID-19 Special Collection, or visit the HSDL Featured Topics on Disinformation and Pandemics and Epidemics.

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