International

‘Campaign spreading false alarm on COVID-19’

U.S. blames Russia-linked accounts

Thousands of Russia-linked social media accounts have launched a coordinated effort to spread alarm about the coronavirus, disrupting global efforts to fight the epidemic, U.S. officials said.

The disinformation campaign promotes unfounded conspiracy theories that the U.S. is behind the COVID-19 outbreak. State Department officials tasked with combating Russian disinformation said that false personas are being used on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to advance Russian talking points in multiple languages.

“By spreading disinformation about coronavirus, Russian malign actors are once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response,” said Philip Reeker, the acting Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia.

‘Economic war’

The claims circulating in recent weeks include allegations that the virus is a U.S. effort to “wage economic war on China,” that it is a biological weapon manufactured by the CIA or part of a Western-led effort “to push anti-China messages.”

U.S. individuals, including Bill Gates, who has spent billions on global health programmes, have also been falsely accused of involvement in the virus.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 12:33:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/campaign-spreading-false-alarm-on-covid-19/article30890772.ece

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