‘According to Imran Ahmed, CEO of the U.K.’s Centre for Combating Digital Hate, the main drivers of online pseudoscience—and now Covid disinformation—are the algorithms of YouTube, Twitter, and especially Facebook. In a phone interview, Ahmed explained how social platforms automatically boost engagement with controversial content — Ji’s specialty — to overwhelm the drab posts of public health officials. A recent study put out by the CCDH shows that Covid has helped the top 147 anti-vax accounts gain 7.8 million new followers since 2019.
And then there’s the not-yet-discovered Covid vaccine, against which Brogan and Ji are raising the alarm. “It’s the next big thing,” Ahmed said. “We’ve gone through various phases in the disease, and the most flexible, dynamic, and opportunistic actors were the first to exploit the [vaccine] issue from its beginning.” Meanwhile, Ahmed notes, rates of vaccine hesitancy have “ballooned” since lockdown began. U.S. polling now shows that up to 50% of respondents now have reservations about the safety and efficacy of a future Covid vaccine.
Ahmed added that while it’s difficult to precisely ascribe rises in this number to a specific platform like GreenMedInfo or individual actors like Brogan and Ji, “our polling and research shows that those who have been more reliant on social media than traditional media for their information on coronavirus are significantly more likely to be vaccine hesitant.”’
Ahmed’s retweeting of this article says everything about him
We will remember 2020 as many things. The year we spent alone. The year we spent online. The year so many died. The year of protests. The year of QAnon. The year of domestic terrorism. The year of the election.
Most of all, perhaps, it is the year of not knowing. Is it safe to send my kids to school? Can I go to the store? Should I vote by mail? Do I still have a job? Is it safe to go to work? Can I afford to stay home? Is it safe to exercise? To fly? Do I still have to wipe down the mail? The groceries? What does the CDC say about that? Can I trust the CDC anymore?
A whirlwind of uncertainty landed on us this year, and it threatens to rip the country apart. We have been struck by an unexpected and little-understood disease, explained in wildly contradictory terms by doctors, politicians, pundits, friends, families, and internet weirdos. The pandemic is an enigma unfolding in real time, where yesterday’s certitudes become tomorrow’s grave mistakes.
Read More: Our Consensus Reality Has Shattered