As many of us have certainly noticed, in 2021 the Internet was full of conspirators and fraudsters. The Police of the Slovak Republic again joined the fight with them via a Facebook page Hoaxes and fraud – Slovak Police. In the latest report it provided a detailed overview of the topics she drew attention to most often, which motivated the spreaders of the conspirators to continue their activities and also brought the dangerous consequences of hoaxes to their attention.
The Hoaxes and Scams – Police of the Slovak Republic site is gaining in popularity
Facebook page administrators have not been bored over the past year. Together, they refuted 189 hoaxes and exchanged more than 9,000 private messages with citizens and fans. At the end of the year, they also prepared a nice summary of the best conspiracies in the form of the “Hoax of the Year 2021” survey. It is currently the most watched site with the intention of misinformation in Slovakia with 122,000 followers.
The social network of Facebook conspirators was again the most popular tool for conspirators. However, the police have also noted the transition of the persons to lesser-known chat applications, which lack tools for moderating posts and offer users a greater degree of anonymity.
Although Facebook checks the posts and claims to the public that it is actively working to curb the spread of misinformation, the Police Force has had a different experience with the social network. In an effort to take action against conspiracy contributions, he met with the reluctance of Facebook employees. On the contrary, Hoaxy’s contributions and fraud have often led to the removal of original, misinformation posts or the deactivation of their authors’ accounts.
Most of the misinformation was related to the pandemic
The main topic of the conspirators was again the coronavirus pandemic. The 151 hoaxes of all those refuted were related to the pandemic, with most users sharing in the spring and fall during the second and third waves. During the summer, fewer disinformation contributions spread on the Internet. Topics related to the severity or origin of the pandemic, the harmfulness and effectiveness of vaccines, or even deaths that were supposed to be caused by vaccination.
In particular, the most widespread theories were about empty or fake freezers for storing the bodies of the deceased, about artificially inflating victims and infected people, about vaccinations as a secret plan for chipping people, or about harmful sticks to be coronavirus-infested.
Of course, there were other mass-shared misinformations that were not directly related to the pandemic, such as posts about Bill Gates’ secret plan, fake snow, or the harmful effects of the 5G network.
However, this was not the only thing the Facebook page drew attention to. Even in 2021, countless fake competitions or fraudulent e-mails and SMS messages appeared in the online space, which wanted to deprive Slovaks of money. Police actively warned him throughout the year, whether in the form of public contributions or responses to private fan reports.
The Police Corps itself also fell victim to hoax distributors, for example, when specific persons informed that the police had in the past marked vaccination cards as hoaxes. However, the hoax was just this statement, which later gave rise to the slogan “Hoax today, true tomorrow”.
Several contributions were devoted to hoaxes, which primarily concerned other countries, but were also shared by Slovaks. As a result, the police received awards, for example, from a hospital in Slovenia or from the Red Cross in Austria.
Hoaxy as a modern security threat
Why is the effort to limit the spread of misinformation important? Hoaxes may seem harmless at first glance, but in reality they significantly affect our society. And not for good. The beliefs of some residents in the false claims of the conspirators were reflected in the vaccination rate, caused several unnecessary deaths and endangered the safety of paramedics, police and hygienists.
Police say there has been no serious threat to security, but they have reported cases where front-line workers have had to face verbal and physical attacks by conspirators.
And with regard to these unnecessary deaths, according to the Police Corps, several patients infected with the coronavirus had a hard time admitting that they had not been protected and had not been vaccinated due to misinformation. She also shared an extreme case of a patient whose belief in widespread hoaxes cost her life.
“In one case, an extreme point was reached where an unvaccinated critically ill patient threatened paramedics before connecting to pulmonary ventilation that he did not want to be vaccinated and died a few days later.”
Why do people spread misinformation?
The police cite causing chaos in society and undermining confidence in the state as the main target of conspirators. Through their activities, they attack the interests of the Slovak Republic and the security of its citizens, while defending their own economic or political interests. The report mentions, for example, foreign states that spread hoaxes externally but communicated other information to their citizens.
Over the past year, we have also come across public figures who have proudly promoted claims made by conspirators. The police believe that in some cases it may have been just an attempt to increase their own popularity, which of course had a positive effect on the financial income of the persons. However, in reality, they did not have to trust the information disseminated.
Perhaps the largest group of hoaxes became citizens who were not motivated by political or economic interests, but by a strong belief in the truth of misinformation. Those who liked to use the Share function and the opportunity to contribute comments on Facebook, which spread the hoaxes not only among like-minded people.
In the case of these residents, the Police Corps conducted several personal searches, but the live heroism of the conspirators was lost. Instead, he encountered denial of sharing or disinformation, or the people simply claimed to have heard information from someone and just shared it.
Forecasts for 2022
According to police forecasts, a number of conspiracies about Covid-19 await us this year as well. He also again expects attacks on his own contributions in order to challenge the refuted misinformation, ie the continuation of the strategy “Hoax today, true tomorrow.” Depending on the situation, contributions related to the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine may also appear.
Source: MojAndroid.sk by www.mojandroid.sk.
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