Almost everyone at this point agrees that the pandemic has dramatically altered our lives forever – for bad in many cases; but the isolation, the fact that we still cannot enjoy and tend to the most common habits that we mostly took for granted before, has made us think thoroughly about our position and how vulnerable the humans can easily become.

Beyond these topics of thought, the pandemic has also changed or pushed much more complicated areas of action, including the dispersion of fake news and the activation of disinformation effects that have seen new light in the last couple of months.

French thinker Bruno Latour says that the coronavirus has taught us the astounding lesson that it is possible in a few weeks to stop the gigantic economy on hold – everywhere in the world.

The economy is, in its essence, the moving life, the work that people have done for so long and that has been the life itself without any interruption for years. Now that the pandemic and the lockdowns struck, the humans have had the chance to think what is important and what isn’t, after all.

Somehow ironically, the halting of the economy and the life’s deceleration has pumped fuel to the fake news fire, reactivating troves of disinformation news articles aimed at pushing all kinds of propaganda from some of the most powerful nations on Earth.

Copasir, the parliamentary committee that oversees the work of the intelligence services in Italy has published a report that draws the official conclusion that China and Russia have used the COVID – 19 pandemic to push disinformation and propaganda, exploiting the emergency situation in their own interest.

The report authored by Italian deputy of the Democratic Party, Enrico Borghi, based on classified material provided by the Italian intelligence, states that Russia focused mainly on conspiracy theories to exploit the virus for their own purposes, with the goal “to create distrust in Western governments, in their health systems and in the scientific sector.”

On the other hand, China has used a different strategy with other means in mind. While Russia used the situation to attack the Western countries drawing in the people’s insecurities during the pandemic, Beijing tried to paint a picture of China’s success in dealing with the pandemic for the western public.

The report goes at great lengths to call out the making up of a video posted on Youtube by the New China TV, which depicts Italian citizens in lockdown singing praise to China from their balconies.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying had promoted the video on social media, but then it was proven that the video was doctored. China has officially rejected the claims.

“In both cases, the goal is to show that authoritarian regimes beat the virus and democracies do not”, the report says, using the examples of Germany and South Korea to argue that this is not true.

Beyond the fact that specific countries of the European Union now officially and publicly recognize and call out the use of disinformation campaigns from powerful, rival nations, the EU institutions have also reacted and have recognized the problem.

In a recent statement, EU High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, said:

“Disinformation in times of the coronavirus can kill. We have a duty to protect our citizens by making them aware of false information and expose the actors responsible for engaging in such practices. In today’s technology-driven world, where warriors wield keyboards rather than swords and targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns are a recognised weapon of state and non-state actors, the European Union is increasing its activities and capacities in this fight.”

“In front of all this, we need to take decisive actions and we have a duty to our citizens to make them aware of false information, to expose the actors responsible for spreading it, and to step up our existing work to deal with this challenge”, the statement says.

Author: Arian Lumezi