The Metamorphosis Foundation held an online event, where the activities and achievements of the project entitled “Rapid Response to Vaccine Disinformation” were presented, which Metamorphosis from Skopje implemented through its digital editions Truthmeter, Meta and Portalb, supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy. The project resulted in a final document containing an overview of all different types of disinformation, conclusions and recommendations for journalists, researchers, but also for all those who want to delve deeper into the world of Covid-19 disinformation and Covid-19 vaccines.
Vaccines change the structure of DNA, only non-believers are vaccinated, vaccines contain chips and people who vaccinate their children actually sell them to the devil.
These are just a few of the disinformation related to Covid-19 and vaccination, which were spread on social networks and in a small part of the media during the coronavirus pandemic.
Today, the Metamorphosis Foundation held an online event, where the activities and achievements of the project entitled “Rapid Response to Vaccine Disinformation” were presented, which Metamorphosis from Skopje implemented through its digital editions Truthemeter, Meta and Portalb, supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy, an initiative of the German Marshall Fund in Washington.
This project was implemented in the period June 2021 to February 2022 and resulted in a final document, “Facts, persistence and consistency are the most important weapons in the fight against vaccine misinformation”, which is an overview of activities in the field of fact-checking vaccine disinformation, as well as numerous published topics and explanations also related to vaccine and Covid-19 disinformation.
The editor-in-chief of Truthmeter, Vladimir Petreski, says that the project was extremely important because it was implemented at a time when new variants of the coronavirus appeared, and vaccination in the country was stagnant.
We have tried to introduce innovative techniques and cooperation with various associations, and thus increase the spread of truth when it comes to disinformation about vaccines. I think that those fact checks had a serious impact on vaccination in the country. We also had direct cooperation with the Ministry of Health, i.e. we opened Viber and WhatsApp groups to ask questions, where there were colleagues from other newsrooms, in order to check the facts. All this has contributed to speeding up the verification process, said Petreski.
According to him, the level of disinformation about Covid-19 and vaccination is different when it comes to social networks and the media. The level of disinformation in the media is much lower, and the most viral are the posts on social networks, so the fact that Facebook is very rigorous in this regard, i.e. there is a special manual for disinformation that is very strict and deletes many of the published untruths is welcoming.
Dr Aleksandra Geogrgieva, President of the Association of Trainees and Young Doctors, shared her experiences from her regular work, i.e. the experiences gained in communicating with patients, as well as in consulting within the project. The Association of Trainees and Young Doctors was in constant contact with the fact-checkers and with their help and expertise more than 60 checks were made.
Miroslava Burns, a regular associate and journalist at Truthmeter, pointed out the main types of disinformation about Covid-19 and vaccination that have spread to the public.
There are certain special purpose profiles, which are intended only for spreading disinformation and they have great virality and impact, i.e. they have the power to reinforce the perception that this information is true.
Regarding the types of disinformation, we were faced with information about vaccines and children, which is a sensitive topic, the narratives were fierce, the recommendations were ignored and the appeal “parents should not give their children to the devil” was used. It was claimed that Covid-19 does not attack children and photos of allegedly vaccinated children were published, which later turned out to be photos of carbon monoxide poisoning in a foreign country.
Disinformation has also spread through the use of religion, with the narrative that only unbelievers are vaccinated and give their bodies to the devil if they receive the vaccine, Burns said.
The most dangerous disinformation, however, Burns said, is those that promote untested drugs and prescriptions for dealing with Covid-19 or that are supposedly recommended after vaccination, such as a 40-day fast with only drinking water, to detoxify after vaccination, something that can seriously endanger human health.
The final document, “Facts, persistence and consistency are the most important weapons in the fight against vaccine misinformation”, provides an overview of all these different types of disinformation encountered by the fact-checking project team, and contains conclusions and recommendations for media professionals, researchers, but and for all those who want to delve deeper into the world of Covid-19 disinformation and Covid-19 vaccines.
This article has been republished from Truthmeter