Weaponising Covid-19


This latest report, from UK think tank the Henry Jackson Society looks at attempts to blame Covid-19 on the Jewish community.

The Government needs to step up efforts to address attempts by the far-right to blame the COVID-19 pandemic on Jews. The conspiracies are said to have permeated every corner of the internet, including encrypted apps like Telegram and everyday digital tools like podcasts. Despite much of the recent political and media focus being on mainstream platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, the report finds the most ardent forms of hatred circulate on peripheral so-called ‘alt-tech’ platforms. The study comes as it was revealed that Facebook has taken robust action in banning adverts by extremist group, which have attempted to sow the seeds of division amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Online messages spread by the far-right identified within the report, are that: Jews are using global lockdowns to “steal everything”, COVID-19 is being used as part of a plot to replace the ‘white’ population of Europe and those infected with the coronavirus should visit their local synagogue and mosque, and more broadly ethnically-diverse neighbourhoods, in order to spread the disease. In response, the author recommends the introduction of stronger forms of internet regulation for alt-tech social media platforms, including a review by the Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) and extensive training for law enforcement officers on the full scope of alt-tech platforms. The report also recommends that the Home Office establish a new counter-disinformation unit to tackle online conspiracy theories head-on by “exposing their fundamental lack of credibility, through well-organised social media campaigns”.

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