As we continue to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, it’s becoming more and more evident that the world is currently battling not one, but two global pandemics: COVID-19 and misinformation.
With social media providing the perfect platform for falsehoods to circulate, conspiracy theories – such as the theory that COVID-19 was a “biological weapon” released by the United States – have been able to spread like wildfire.
You may have seen them pop up on your friend’s Facebook page. Or maybe they’ve made an appearance in your family’s group chat. But this weekend, the coronavirus conspiracy theories made their way onto the streets of Melbourne.
A police officer is in hospital, and ten people have been arrested after hundreds disobeyed stay-at-home restrictions to rally on the steps of state parliament. @LanaMurphy #9News pic.twitter.com/H3ThRtNlnq
— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) May 10, 2020
On Sunday, dozens gathered at Victoria’s state parliament to protest against 5G, vaccinations, and what they called the “coronavirus conspiracy”. The protestors were also heard chanting “arrest Bill Gates”, in response to a bizarre conspiracy theory which connects the billionaire to the pandemic.
The protest comes just days after 26-minute conspiracy theory documentary, Plandemic, began making waves online.
The documentary, which has been removed from various social media platforms on multiple occasions, was produced by Mikki Willis’ Californian-based production company Elevate, which has been known to produce other conspiracy theory-fuelled videos in the past.
The documentary’s description reads: “The Hidden Agenda Behind COVID-19,” and ask, “Was COVID-19 a plan?”
The video, which is part of an upcoming full-length documentary, claims that the COVID-19 pandemic is part of an elaborate plan by billionaires – including Bill Gates – to enforce globally mandated vaccinations.
The main ‘expert’ used within the documentary is anti-vaccination activist Judy Mikovits.
The documentary makers describe Mikovits as “one of the most accomplished scientists of her generation”, however, the former medical researcher had her research on chronic fatigue discredited in 2011.
On top of that, Mikovits has not published any scientific literature since 2012. She also spent five days in jail for allegedly stealing material from a lab, and is well known for her controversial, baseless theories about vaccinations.