Read this article in Русский

One of the core elements of disinformation is persistence. Sticking to a few comfortable tropes makes lying easier. Lying repeatedly can create an impression of conviction and access to facts and sources that are not known to everyone. Repeat a lie from somewhere else, and you can claim that you have a source.

Lies are easier to remember if you stick to the same stories. Professional journalists need to check facts, corroborate data, find sources. Disinformation operatives just need to stick to a few handy storylines, plots, narratives and repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.

The very first case of disinformation on the current COVID-19 was a story from Russian state-owned Sputnik, claiming that the strange new virus in China was “probably made in NATO labs”. To date, Russian state media, Russian oligarch media, international conspiracy theory sites and many more have repeated this claim at least 20 times. This week we have found it here and here in Spanish on a site based in illegally-annexed Crimea, and here, on sites in Russian.

Comfortable Old Claims

The trope “The West/Europe/US is dead” is another comfortable old claim that, with some variations, pro-Kremlin media have been using ever since Soviet times. This week, pro-Kremlin outlets have continued tirelessly predicting, or stating, the demise of the European Union, the Schengen Zone, Brussels and Europe’s role in the world.

A very concrete example of repetitive lying is the claim that Poland stopped Russian aircraft loaded with supplies for Italy from using Polish airspace. This week we see it here and here, in state-owned Russian media in Russian and Italian. When this claim was published it had already been debunked by the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament, suggesting disciplinary measures against a senator who spread the claim.

The Echo-Chamber of Disinformation

The pro-Kremlin disinformation operation can be divided into five distinct branches – three of them present in this week’s caseload of disinformation:

The two other categories function as multipliers and sources. A large proportion of the content of the above-mentioned sites is shared with, or brought to, the following types of sites:

  • Sites registered outside Russia and with no apparent ties to Russian state or oligarch structures, but devoted mainly to Russian topics and with an openly pro-Kremlin agenda: e.g., Russia-Insider, Russian-Faith, The Duran, The Saker;
  • And sites registered outside Russia that support pro-Kremlin narratives while having no apparent ties to Russia, and also report on a wider range of issues: e.g., Global Research, Unz Review, Veterans Today, The Alt World, and more…

These sites create a kind of echo-chamber of disinformation. They share content and contributors, views, and narratives. Claims are repeated and adapted for new audiences.

The Cure to Cure all Cures

Disinformation is dangerous as it causes distrust in efforts to tackle the crisis. Researchers across the world are working around the clock developing tests, vaccines and treatments. No medical or public health authority claims to have the solution here and now.

But pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets have the answer: suggesting zinc is the silver bullet, the miracle cure. Or hydroxychloroquine! Or mefloquine! Or vitamin C! Or socialism!

Another recurring lie is the claim that only Russia (well, and China) is providing real help. This is simply not true, no matter how often the claim is repeated. More details on EU efforts to support member states, partners, and the world can be found here.

Usually we include a few “fun” cases in this overview. But the joke is getting old. It is not “fun” when the Belarusian opposition movement is accused of deliberately spreading COVID-19 as part of a scheme to exterminate the Belarusian nation. It is not fun now, and it was not fun the first time the claim appeared.

Old jokes are no more fun than old disinformation.

Wash your hands; respect the quarantine requirements. Take care of each other!


related disinfo cases

Date
Title
Outlets
Country
06.04.2020
  • SouthFront - English
Russia
06.04.2020
  • SouthFront - English
US
06.04.2020
  • News Front - YouTube, Russian
Ukraine
06.04.2020
  • Katehon - English
China, US
05.04.2020
  • Sputnik Greece
Italy, Serbia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Russia
05.04.2020
  • Geopolitica.ru - English,
  • Geopolitica.ru - Russian,
  • Geopolitica.ru - Spanish, Castilian,
  • Geopolitica.ru - Italian
EU, US
05.04.2020
  • Rossia 24 - YouTube
Czech Republic, Russia
05.04.2020
  • RT Arabic ,
  • aljadeed.tv,
  • sarayanews.com,
  • nabd.com,
  • almarsad.co,
  • voice-yemen.com,
  • shamra,
  • aqsasport.org,
  • beirutnewscenter.com,
  • hadfnews.ps,
  • alhadeel.net,
  • elhmra.com,
  • yemen-now.com,
  • sahafahnet.net,
  • bawabaa.org,
  • libyanews.co,
  • sst.sy,
  • kol-masr.com,
  • sada-ar.com,
  • sahafah24,
  • eg24hours.com,
  • kachaf.com,
  • albidda.net,
  • akhbarlibya,
  • bbcnews1.com,
  • bbcnews1.com,
  • akhbarlibya,
  • bbcnews1.com,
  • Head Topics,
  • saadaonline.net,
  • akhbarlibya,
  • alarab.com,
  • eshraag.com,
  • eshraag.com
UK
04.04.2020
  • One World
US
03.04.2020
  • fondsk.ru
US
03.04.2020
  • Strategic Culture Foundation
US
03.04.2020
  • RT Arabic ,
  • aljoumhouria.com,
  • dearborn.org,
  • alwatanvoice.com,
  • al-vefagh.com,
  • arabi21.com,
  • jo24.net,
  • jo24.net,
  • Alalam TV,
  • hakaekonline.com,
  • sarayanews.com,
  • hakaekonline.com,
  • elmarada.org,
  • alwan.elwatannews.com,
  • al-vefagh.com,
  • aliwaa.com.lb,
  • alarabi.press,
  • alrakoba.net,
  • tuniscope.com,
  • factjo.com,
  • yemenat.net,
  • afrigatenews.net,
  • aljarida.com.tn,
  • voice-yemen.com,
  • array-alam.com,
  • yemeninews.net,
  • anbaalwatan.com,
  • annabaa.org,
  • albaladnews.net,
  • elwatan.starware.net,
  • watania.net,
  • yemnews.net,
  • znn-lb.com,
  • ibb-press.net,
  • arabicradio.net,
  • albaosala.net,
  • hournews.net,
  • sahafahnet.net,
  • al-marsd.com,
  • m.lalaplus.ma,
  • turess.com,
  • libanaujourdhui.com,
  • yemennownews.com,
  • maghress.com,
  • burathanews.com,
  • hournews.net,
  • sahafah24,
  • yemen-now.com,
  • arabstoday.net,
  • sahafah24,
  • freeposts.net,
  • beiruttime-lb.com,
  • alaraby-media.net,
  • Gulf 365,
  • orient.ma,
  • fibladi.com,
  • athirpress.com,
  • sahafah24,
  • yemen-now.com,
  • jadeedouna.com,
  • iraqi.dk,
  • asdaapress.com,
  • elwassat.com,
  • eldjazaireldjadida.com,
  • Gulf 365,
  • awanmasr.com,
  • egy.news,
  • hourpress.net,
  • fibladi.com,
  • ela5bar.com,
  • ertikaznews.com,
  • libyanews.co,
  • masralyoum.net,
  • masralyoum.net,
  • gulfstory.com,
  • Misr Alan,
  • healthcarearabic.com,
  • almaghribtoday.net,
  • akwadon.com,
  • iraqtoday.net,
  • belbalady,
  • tn24.ween.tn,
  • belbalady,
  • albidda.net,
  • arablifestyle.com,
  • gulfeyes.net,
  • emiratesvoice.com,
  • saadaonline.net,
  • saudipress.net,
  • gulfeyes.net,
  • khabarmaroc.com,
  • m.hournews.net,
  • albidda.net,
  • hamrinnews.net,
  • syria-24.com,
  • khabarmaroc.com,
  • saudisalary.com,
  • saadaonline.net,
  • bbcnews1.com,
  • alqubbahnews.com,
  • hamrinnews.net,
  • sportnewsps.com,
  • sportnewsps.com,
  • sportnewsps.com,
  • lomazoma.com,
  • eshraag.com,
  • ww.hamrinnews.net,
  • pressbee.net,
  • albidda.net,
  • palestinetoday.net
Russia
03.04.2020
  • Sputnik Italia
Italy, Russia
03.04.2020
  • Sputnik Italia
EU, Russia
03.04.2020
EU, Russia
02.04.2020
  • SouthFront - English
Russia
02.04.2020
  • News agency Realist,
  • voltairenet.org
US
02.04.2020
  • Tsargrad TV
EU, Italy, Spain, Germany
02.04.2020
  • News Front - YouTube, Russian
EU, Russia
02.04.2020
EU, Moldova, Syria, Ukraine
02.04.2020
  • Pervyi Kanal
Italy, France, Germany
02.04.2020
  • Ukrainskoe Dosie @ Ukraina.ru - YouTube
Ukraine
02.04.2020
  • flux.md
China, UK, US
01.04.2020
  • RIAFAN - Russian
Russia
01.04.2020
  • svpressa.ru
US
01.04.2020
  • Sputnik Czech
EU, Cuba, China, US, Russia
01.04.2020
  • Sputnik Czech
EU
01.04.2020
  • Sputnik Czech
EU
01.04.2020
  • RT Arabic ,
  • RT Arabic - YouTube
Greece, Italy, Spain
01.04.2020
  • RT France
EU, Italy
31.03.2020
  • News Front - Spanish
US
31.03.2020
  • News Front - Spanish
US
31.03.2020
  • Oriental Review
EU, Italy, US, Russia
31.03.2020
  • RT English
New Zealand
31.03.2020
  • Sputnik Czech
EU, Czech Republic
31.03.2020
  • Sputnik Czech
EU, Czech Republic
31.03.2020
  • RT Arabic ,
  • RT Arabic - YouTube
US
31.03.2020
  • RT Arabic - YouTube,
  • RT Arabic
EU, Italy
31.03.2020
  • News Front - Russian
EU, Ukraine
31.03.2020
  • RT Spanish
EU
31.03.2020
  • Sputnik Poland
EU, China, Italy, Russia
31.03.2020
  • Sputnik Poland,
  • Sputnik Poland
EU, Iran, US
31.03.2020
  • RT English
Italy, Russia
31.03.2020
  • Sputnik Italia,
  • Sputnik Italia,
  • Sputnik Armenia - Russian
EU, Italy, Germany
31.03.2020
  • News Front - Spanish,
  • Sputnik Spain
Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Armenia, Georgia, US, Russia
30.03.2020
  • RT English
EU, China, US
30.03.2020
  • Sputnik Georgia
EU
30.03.2020
  • News Front - English
Georgia, US
28.03.2020
  • Sputnik Czech
Russia
28.03.2020
  • Sputnik Greece
Greece, Italy, Germany
28.03.2020
  • pl.rubaltic.ru
EU
27.03.2020
  • Sputnik Armenia - Russian
EU
26.03.2020
  • Sputnik Arabic - (sptnkne.ws),
  • New Hub
EU
26.03.2020
  • RT English
France, US
26.03.2020
  • RT English
Syria, US
26.03.2020
  • Bloknot Moldova,
  • regnum.ru
EU, China, Moldova, US, Russia
25.03.2020
  • News Front - Hungarian
China, US, Russia
25.03.2020
  • News Front - Spanish
US
25.03.2020
  • News Front - Spanish
China
25.03.2020
  • RT English
EU, US
25.03.2020
  • RT English
US
25.03.2020
  • Sputnik Greece
Greece
24.03.2020
  • Media Network Agency
EU, Moldova
24.03.2020
  • Sputnik France,
  • News Front - French,
  • RT France
Poland, Russia
24.03.2020
  • Sputnik Armenia - Russian
Italy, Poland, Russia
24.03.2020
  • SouthFront - English
EU, Canada, US
23.03.2020
Ukraine, Russia
23.03.2020
  • RT Arabic ,
  • RT Arabic - YouTube
US, Russia
23.03.2020
  • RT Arabic ,
  • lb.shafaqna.com
EU, Germany
23.03.2020
  • Sputnik Belarus - Russian,
  • Ria Novosti
Ukraine, Russia, Latvia
23.03.2020
  • Sputnik Italia
Italy, Poland, Russia
23.03.2020
  • Vitbich
US, Belarus
22.03.2020
  • News Front - Hungarian
Ukraine
22.03.2020
  • RT Arabic ,
  • RT Arabic - YouTube
EU, Italy, US, Russia
22.03.2020
  • Sputnik Arabic,
  • New Hub,
  • albidda.net
Italy, Ukraine, Russia
21.03.2020
  • RT France - YouTube,
  • RT France - YouTube,
  • RT France - YouTube,
  • Sputnik France,
  • Sputnik France,
  • News Front - French
EU, France, Russia
21.03.2020
  • Katehon - English
China, France, US
21.03.2020
  • Evrozona @ Vesti FM
Ukraine, Russia
21.03.2020
  • Katehon - English
China, UK
21.03.2020
  • fondsk.ru,
  • Katyusha
US
21.03.2020
  • Sputnik Czech
Czech Republic
20.03.2020
  • Sergey Mikheyev - YouTube
EU, US, Russia
20.03.2020
  • RT Germany - YouTube
EU, Italy, Germany
19.03.2020
  • novorosinform.org
Russia
19.03.2020
  • Sputnik Arabic
US
18.03.2020
  • Sputnik Arabic,
  • skyiraq.news,
  • mulhak.com,
  • addiyarcomcarloscharlesnet.com,
  • 3-arabi.com,
  • yemenportal.net,
  • neworientnews.com,
  • al-ahd.net,
  • sahafatak.net,
  • kolalwatn.net,
  • ahfad.info,
  • albidda.net,
  • bbcnews1.com,
  • lomazoma.com,
  • Theworldnews.net
US
18.03.2020
  • RT Arabic ,
  • RT Arabic - YouTube,
  • RT Arabic - Facebook
China, France
18.03.2020
  • RT Arabic ,
  • almayadeen,
  • athrpress,
  • manar.com,
  • alwafd,
  • Al-Bayader ,
  • watania.net,
  • Maannews ,
  • jannahnews.com,
  • manateq.net,
  • egypt-today.com,
  • arabstoday.net,
  • Gulf 365,
  • eldjazaireldjadida.com,
  • albidda.net,
  • lomazoma.com
China, US
18.03.2020
  • Pervyi Kanal
Russia
18.03.2020
  • Krym-inform
Ukraine, Russia
18.03.2020
  • Izvestia
EU, Germany, Russia
17.03.2020
  • Sputnik Armenia - Russian
Russia
17.03.2020
  • Sputnik Moldova,
  • mesagerul.ro
Moldova
16.03.2020
Ukraine, Russia
16.03.2020
  • Sputnik Azerbaijan - Russian
EU, Azerbaijan
16.03.2020
  • Sputnik Azerbaijan - Russian
Italy
15.03.2020
  • evening-kazan.ru,
  • Bloknot Russia
Russia
13.03.2020
  • rubaltic.ru
Germany, Russia
10.03.2020
  • Sputnik Moldova - Romanian
China, Romania, Moldova
08.03.2020
  • Vesti FM - YouTube
Belgium
06.03.2020
  • New Hub,
  • ,
  • ,
  • ,
  • anayemeni.net
Ukraine, Russia
30.01.2020
  • Sputnik Armenia - Russian
Italy, Russia