Lidia Fagale, Rotating Chairperson of the presidium of the Belt and Road Journalists Network and General Secretary of the Union of Journalists of Buenos Aires
Social media platforms have been flooded by a deluge of false information about the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) when this article was written. All of us pay some attention to this topic and are therefore exposed to rumors disguised as truth and facts.
While shocked by the outbreak of COVID-19 as the new year approached, we could not verify information about how many people had been infected, cured or killed by the virus and what measures we could take to prevent and control it. We have become the target of an army of media who use fake news as a weapon to shoot us with machine guns. As a result, the so-called “industrial-military complex” gives way to the sudden intrusion of the “media-military complex”.
Many diseases can be fatal. But how many people will be killed by false information? What kind of emotions does it arouse in people?
Social media also tell us that many Asian citizens are ostracized in their everyday life because of the epidemic. As a result, the “I am not a virus” campaign was launched to resist the exclusion of overseas Chinese in some European countries and the United States.
Out of their commercial interests and speculative considerations, Western countries prefer to regard Wuhan as a toxic factory for the production of novel coronavirus, but what they seem to have forgotten is that Wuhan was once the main battlefield of armed resistance against the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), and that the uprising ended China’s feudal monarchy and proclaimed the birth of a republic.
Now the city of Wuhan must fight against another form of imperialism--information imperialism. Obviously, this is also a battle that the Chinese government must fight abroad.
The World Health Organization (WHO) points out that since the outbreak, a large amount of false information about the virus has spread, causing serious problems. Due to the proliferation of information manipulation and falsification, the WHO put forward the concept of “information epidemic” and tried to contain it. “We have recognized that this ‘information epidemic’ can hamper measures to combat the virus and undermine the effectiveness of those measures,” said Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of the Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness at the WHO.
Some news reports and the circulation of them on social media and other platforms have essentially become a powerful weapon for the United States to defend its economic hegemony against China.
In this context, information about the epidemic released by Chinese authorities have been blocked by the “high wall” of western countries. Despite the efforts of some media outlets and journalists, the health policies being implemented in China and endorsed by the WHO cannot always spread to other parts of the world.
However, this distortion of information manipulated with the help of huge amounts of capital is neither an isolated event nor a novelty.
Today it’s about COVID-19, and maybe tomorrow it will be about another topic that can be manipulated. They will keep on doing this.
The efforts made by the Chinese government, such as truthfully communicating the epidemic situation as well as prevention and control measures, and building two temporary hospitals dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients in just a few days, have also been attacked by the “nonsense tempest” of false information. Speaking of critical thinking and discernment, Byung-Chul Han, a philosopher of Korean origin, points out that this ability has now been swallowed up and shredded by endless lies told by capital that even the dead can take advantage of to avoid losing even the slightest bit of hegemony.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, various means and contents of distortion and provocation spread like oil stains, which is obviously a powerful attack launched by the United States to occupy the hegemonic space in the high-tech field in the context of trade war. This trade war not only dealt a heavy blow to the stock market, but also entrapped mankind in endless imperial rumors. We should bear in mind that under the capitalist system, information will become a commodity that no longer serves the socialized production of collective knowledge, but is subject to the logic of market. And for us, this is a kind of genocide at the information level.