Trust the Authorities, trust the Experts, and trust the Science, we were told. Public health messaging during the Covid-19 pandemic was only credible if it originated from government health authorities, the World Health Organization, and pharmaceutical companies, as well as scientists who parroted their lines with little critical thinking.
In the name of ‘protecting’ the public, the authorities have gone to great lengths, as described in the recently released Twitter Files (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) that document collusion between the FBI and social media platforms, to create an illusion of consensus about the appropriate response to Covid-19.
They suppressed ‘the truth,’ even when emanating from highly credible scientists, undermining scientific debate and preventing the correction of scientific errors. In fact, an entire bureaucracy of censorship has been created, ostensibly to deal with so-called MDM— misinformation (false information resulting from human error with no intention of harm); disinformation (information intended to mislead and manipulate); malinformation (accurate information intended to harm).
From fact-checkers like NewsGuard, to the European Commission’s Digital Services Act, the UK Online Safety Bill and the BBC Trusted News Initiative, as well as Big Tech and social media, all eyes are on the public to curtail their ‘mis-/dis-information.’
“Whether it’s a threat to our health or a threat to our democracy, there is a human cost to disinformation.” — Tim Davie, Director-General of the BBC
But is it possible that ‘trusted’ institutions could pose a far bigger threat to society by disseminating false information?
Although the problem of spreading false information is usually conceived of as emanating from the public, during the Covid-19 pandemic, governments, corporations, supranational organisations and even scientific journals and academic institutions have contributed to a false narrative.
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