A fake document is exposed; a woman counters disinformation

Russ Grayson
Nov 13 · 4 min read
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THE DISINFORMATION WAR continues with the release of a fake document in Victoria and a Melbourne woman taking action to provide reliable information on the Covid-19 virus and the measures taken to stem its spread.

Covid denialists continue to demonstrate their complicity in spreading socially-disruptive propaganda with the circulation of a fake document purported to come from the Victorian government’s health department.

The document claims DHHS directives, issued on October 11, warn that Victorian businesses displaying ‘no mask, no entry’ signage or that refused service to those not wearing a mask are in breach of federal discrimination laws.

“A DHHS spokeswoman confirmed to Fact Check that the department was not the source of the document,” reports RMIT-ABC FactCheck.

This latest episode is another in the denialists’ disinformation campaign that has led to confusion and social conflict during the health crisis.

Faking the Victorian government document reprises a tactic used on both sides during the Cold War.

In setting a precedent, the tactics deployed by denialists could be used in future crises to weaken the nation’s ability to deal effectively with them. This is what authoritarian states with an interest in weakening the democracies want to do.

The lesson for citizen journalists in this recent episode is to always check what denialists, whether of the Covid or global heating or any other kind say is true.

Woman uses water logic to counter disinformation

In an interview with ABC News, (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Elissa, a former communications adviser, explained that what worried her was : “…where people would then turn for vital health information if they were not consuming news during the pandemic”.

That came from concern about the findings of a University of Canberra project tracking the phenomenon of news fatigue, a feeling of being overwhelmed by the news and turning away from it to other sources of information or turning away from the news entirely. The phenomenon predates the arrival of the pandemic but has likely been worsened by its flood of bad news.

Women turning away from the news makes them vulnerable to disinformation

Elissa said she was becoming concerned about her community’s vulnerability to disinformation. She said there are a lot of the ‘wellness community‘’ who are “very vulnerable to ‘alternative facts’, to paraphrase a Trumpism.”

This is something that has become apparent during the pandemic, and not only in Australia. Some health-conscious people interested in alternative therapies and medicines, some yoga practitioners and others fell victim to the messages coming from the Covid-denial camp and to conspiracy theories around the virus and government responses to it.

The Mums of the Hills blog shows community social media groups can be part of the answer to combating dangerous online misinformation, said Elissa.

The ABC story reports that Elissa’a response to countering disinformation differs to that of many social media sources where admins ban discussion of the virus, fearing division among participants or because the virus has been politicised.

It is an example of how some social media admins take an authoritarian approach to their work to maintain a narrow range of topics. “Off topic” has become a common reason to delete comments where someone has wants to post what they thought is of potential interest to readers.

Sources

Tired of coronavirus conspiracy theories in your Facebook feed? So was Elissa — so she did something about it

Fact checking the news: The ABC provides fact-checking on the news here.

Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism: a rough guide to telling your stories…

Russ Grayson

Written by

I'm an independent online and photojournalist living on the Tasmanian coast after nine months on the road in a minivan.

Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism: a rough guide to telling your stories in word and image.

Russ Grayson

Written by

I'm an independent online and photojournalist living on the Tasmanian coast after nine months on the road in a minivan.

Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism: a rough guide to telling your stories in word and image.

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