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COVID 19: Latest conspiracy theory links coronavirus to Black Lives Matter protests on Facebook and Twitter

Yasmin Ahmed     June 29, 2020

It has been over six months since the novel coronavirus crept in and disrupted the lives of many. Many conspiracy theories rose as the pandemic spread worldwide. The most recent conspiracy theory links the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests in the US on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.

As reported by CNet, some conspiracy theorists on Facebook first linked the pandemic to the protests that arose in the US in the backdrop of George Floyd killing. According to the theory, the protests were meant to start a race war so that further lockdown restrictions could be imposed as people had started seeing through the coronavirus hoax. Other theories suggested that the elite created the pandemic and the protests both, so that they could have more control over people.

On Twitter, users posted pictures of protestors not maintaining social distance as proof that there is no such thing as coronavirus. This is because there was no immediate spike after the protests, according to the theories. Some users even claimed that black users were immune to coronavirus. Apart from Facebook and Twitter, conspiracy theories linking the pandemic and the protests in the US have appeared on Reddit too. The timing of a pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests, and The US elections is mainly causing the conspiracy theories to collide on these platforms.

"I can't remember a time where we had so many things going on at the same time that invited these conspiratorial patterns," Eugene Kiely, director of the fact-checking website, which partners with Facebook told CNet.

There have been 116,101 mentions that refer to both the coronavirus and the protests as a hoax from May 28 to June 26, according to Zignal Labs, a media news intelligence company that analyses data from social media and news outlets.

Other conspiracy theories that have floated in the backdrop of the pandemic are the 5G conspiracy theory. It claims that the virus is spread through the 5G network, others held tech giants accountable.

Tech giants like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have brought in steps to regulate and moderate content spreading misinformation. While Twitter and Facebook take down content that spreads information, YouTube down ranks, and reduces the visibility of such videos.

"There was a strong positive relationship between use of social media platforms as sources of knowledge about Covid-19 and holding one or more conspiracy beliefs," a study posted in the Psychological Magazine recently stated. "YouTube had the strongest association with conspiracy beliefs, followed by Facebook," according to the study.

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