Coronavirus Disinformation Roundup

Editor’s note: The role of information and disinformation in worldwide reaction and response to the novel Coronavirus continues to dominate headlines. Here’s a roundup of the latest reports.

Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD): China’s Coronavirus Disinformation Campaigns Are Integral to Its Global Information Warfare Strategy

Matthew Ha and Alice Cho highlights a European External Action Service (EEAS) report documenting disinformation operations related to COVID-19. The authors propose the U.S. should develop a comprehensive strategy to counter China’s efforts to dominate international organizations such as the World Health Organization and coordinate with allies and partners to unify their diplomatic messaging in order to challenge and disavow Beijing’s deception.

“Beijing’s whole-of-government approach to shaping a global narrative of China’s indispensable leadership in the COVID-19 fight underscores Beijing’s ambition to upend the United States as a global leader even after this crisis passes. If the CCP’s persistent efforts remain unchecked, the United States indeed risks losing credibility in the eyes of governments worldwide. It is imperative that the United States counter the CCP’s disinformation and influence activities both at home and abroad.”

Read the full article here.

NBC News: Trump administration asks intelligence agencies to find out whether China, WHO hid info on coronavirus pandemic

NBC was among the first to report that intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and Central Intelligence Agency were tasked by the White House to determine information about the early origins of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Stars and Stripes: Coronavirus pandemic leads to spike in disinformation directed at US, NATO in Europe

The military’s worldwide news outlet reports on disinformation aimed at Lithuania and NATO headquarters in Brussels, most of the information disseminated in Russian language. The Lithuanian Defense Minister expressed concerns about attempts to turn the pandemic crisis into a security crisis. ““Fake news like this piece are aimed at sowing distrust in our Alliance partners and NATO unity,” according to Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis.

“Fake news like this piece are aimed at sowing distrust in our Alliance partners and NATO unity.”

About two-thirds of the disinformation comes out in Russian, the ministry said. Lithuania, like other Baltic states, has a large Russian-speaking population.

One of the phony messages involved a claim that a U.S. solider deployed to Lithuania was infected with the coronavirus. Other disinformation narratives have centered on supposed failures among European countries to handle the coronavirus outbreak, as well as bad behavior of allied troops in the Baltics.

“The narrative also claims that NATO finances nuclear weaponry instead of fighting COVID-19, which puts European, including Lithuanian, citizens at risk.”

Full article here.

Foreign Policy: China’s Coronavirus Information Offensive

Beijing Is Using New Methods to Spin the Pandemic to Its Advantagel

Another look at the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign to deflect information from its own failures handling the crisis and shift blame to other countries’ missteps.

Full article requires free registration and is available here.