Confronting the Coronavirus Disinformation
Confronting the coronavirus disinformation:
The corona virus stands as a major international health hazard. It also caused an economic crisis of an unpreceded and still unknown dimension, and has caused great personal and social strains due to quarantine and social distancing rules. In addition to the spread of the virus, a different and dangerous
threat has been spreading rapidly as well: disinformation.
Since the corona crisis began, social media platforms have been swamped with false information about the virus, the way it spreads, who is responsible for the outbreak, what kind of medicines can assist in recovery and other conspiracy theories such as the “5G technology conspiracy”.
The false information, which is being spread deliberately is defined as disinformation and could cause erosion in trust among people and between people and state institutions. This might end in citizens being less adherent to follow the Ministry of Health Guidelines, which could end up in an even bigger spread and infection rate.
To provide a counter to the mass wave of disinformation, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Jerusalem Office along with their partner, Arik Segal from Conntix, initiated a social media campaign that aims at encouraging social media users to think critically and to behave responsibly.
The rationale behind the campaign is to teach users basic digital literacy skills, which will assist them indeciding what is true and what is false. The campaign consists of three types of ads that answer different types of coronavirus disinformation: intergroup incitement, mis-infodemic (false medical information) and general disinformation. Each ad was translated into the four main languages in Israel: Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian.
The distribution of ads was implemented in several ways: a sponsored, targeted campaign on Facebook and Instagram. This campaign reached so far more than 200,000 people in Israel with an engagement rate of about 12%. Most prominent was the “intergroup incitement ad” which received many likes and comments.
In addition, the ads were distributed through digital community leaders – managers of large Facebook and WhatsApp groups and were retweeted by a leading Israeli journalist.
As of now, the campaign is planned to continue in Israel with targeted distribution for refugee
communities, Russian speaking communities, as well as digital influencers; in these days the campaign will be also launched on the Palestinian side.
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