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BURST Infection with fake news is deadly

by: XHABIR DERALLA

Indeed, a difficult weekend. The news from Zagreb are distressful. On top of all the trouble with the pandemic, the beautiful city of Zagreb was hit by a strong earthquake, unseen in the past 140 years. And while our thoughts are with the people affected by the earthquake and while we are searching for the telephone numbers of our loved ones from friendly Croatia, the professional media there are conveying the appeals for people not to fall for fake news. Many, and probably rightfully so, liken the damage from misfortunes and disasters with the damage that is caused by producers and distributors of fake news and disinformation. Panic in such times is destructive and can cost lives.

The motives of those spreading fake news and panic among people vary. The most dangerous are those that are produced by organized agitprop centers that have political, military, economic or criminal interests. Not so dangerous, but not naïve, are the fools that spread fake news in order to attract attention and whose mental structure is inclined to conspiracy theories, paranoia, evil and, most often, pure stupidity. Back in our country, a Monday covered with snow, as if everything that is bothering us wasn’t enough.

In correspondence with a colleague of mine, I receive new information on, as she called it, the hurricane of disinformation and the witch hunt in the city in which she lives in. She informed me of the numerous panic questions she was asked by people who were afraid of being infected with the coronavirus.

The situation is even more concerning as precisely those who are supposed to care the most for fake news and panic not to be spread among the people, are the main carriers of the disinformation virus. And unfortunately, these are not just the media, but also pathetic little individuals with political interests and ambitions.

It’s not our task to hunt down the infected. That’s not and must not be anyone’s task. There is a huge difference between hunting down the infected and identifying potential hotbeds and discovering new cases. And what is most important, that’s a task of the system. Our task is to fight against the panic and stigma. This is a task of all of us. Only in this way we will help our heroes – health care workers, the police, army and everyone whose work is to provide services, to communicate, to sell, to supply…

Experience is not required, but only maturity and minimum presence of mind. Higher education and a direct link with the government’s expert teams is not needed. It’s enough to put the ignorance and malevolence most deeply in the freezer. At least until this difficult global war with the coronavirus ends.

We have institutions that until three years ago were captured and criminalized, and now are on the frontlines, elevating us high on the list of most successful countries in the fight against the coronavirus. It’s quite enough to follow official statements and announcements. Everything else can be dangerous, and even deadly.

The difficult disease is step away from all of us… Poverty will also take its deadly toll long after the pandemic ends. It is wrong to add on top of all the trouble also fake news and panic, which also bring precious human lives in danger. Instead of that, solidarity and mutual trust are the main defence against the pandemic. Certainly, also complying to the measures #StayHome, wash hands, disinfect…

After all, it is a state of emergency, there is a curfew. What could be more serious than that?

translation: N. Cvetkovska

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