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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Containing the misinformation virus – social media platforms race to remove ‘Plandemic’

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Containing the misinformation virus – social media platforms race to remove ‘Plandemic’ | The Thaiger
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The rush is on to remove a viral video entitled ‘Plandemic’, a conspiracy theory program which has been as viral as the actual virus it spreads false information about. The world’s leading social networks are taking down the video, edited in the style of a highly-produced documentary. But new ‘infections’ keep popping up as people with copies of the 26 minute video keep trying to re-upload it.

The program is full of twisted misinformation about the origins of the Covid-19 coronavirus, how it is transmitted, false ‘cures’ and dangerous advice. Since the video first appeared earlier this week, it has exploded across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other websites, prompting an attempt to remove it.

Some of narrative includes the following unverified medical and scientific claims…

• the virus must have been released from a laboratory environment

• it could not possibly be naturally-occurring situation

• using masks and gloves actually makes people more sick

• closing beaches is “insanity” because of “healing microbes” in the water

• the number of deaths is being deliberately falsified, to “control” populations

In another part of the video interviewer Mikki Willis interviews Judy Mikovits, a discredited virologist, best known for her anti-vaccine activism. The video touches on a number of favourite topics among online conspiracists, mostly centering on the theme that vaccines are a “money-making enterprise that cause medical harm”.

Containing the misinformation virus - social media platforms race to remove 'Plandemic' | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Judy Mikovits, a discredited virologist, best known for her anti-vaccine activism

Other people in the video pass themselves off as experts, and the public’s vulnerability, and lack of education in many cases, becomes crucial in the success of spreading false claims. The slick production values means the program has a veneer of credibility and the producers pass off completely unverified ‘facts’, often passed on by ‘experts’ with fancy credentials that are often not even real.

The mixture of helpful sounding ‘advice’, cleverly constructed arguments, along with a mixture of truth, is then peppered with misleading medical myths – a blancmange of propaganda for the gullible wading through the muddy sea of social media.

The problem is that these misinformation videos often get more traction than real videos from trusted health bodies and authorities. Now it’s a game of cat-and-mouse for social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and others, since the same content can be uploaded again and again by different users. As quickly as the items are removed and accounts blocked, new accounts are made and the video resurfaces again.

All these efforts have emboldened the film-maker who continues to urge viewers to download the video and re-post it elsewhere, “in an effort to bypass the gatekeepers of free speech”.

The social media platforms, still smarting after being outwitted in the pivotal Brexit and 2016 US Presidential votes, are having to quickly show their willingness to remove clearly misleading content whilst also remaining bastions of democratic and free speech.

YouTube said it removes “medically unsubstantiated diagnostic advice”. About the ‘Plandemic’ video, YouTube says it was removed for making claims about a cure for Covid-19, even though it is not backed by health organisations. Twitter says it would remove “unverified claims” that could prove dangerous. Facebook has brought in new tools to point users towards reliable sources of information.

A search for “Plandemic” on YouTube now, mostly, reveals content debunking the video’s many false claims, but plenty of clips from the video itself still make the first wave of search results.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

13 Bangkok businesses allowed to reopen tomorrow

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13 Bangkok businesses allowed to reopen tomorrow | The Thaiger

Tomorrow, 13 types of businesses in Bangkok are being allowed to reopen but must have strict disease control measures in place. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration made the decision which would undoubtedly give many businesses some relief as well as potential customers.

Such businesses with restrictions include:

  • Banquet venues, which will need authorisation from BMA for events with over 300 participants
  • Amulet shops and markets
  • Beauty salons, tattoo and piercing shops
  • Fitness centers, but personal trainers and communal steam rooms are not allowed
  • Game Arcades; but all points of contact must be regularly disinfected and facemasks worn at all times.
  • Internet shops
  • Senior nursing homes, but with limited activities
  • Sports venues, except for boxing rings and race tracks, but no audiences allowed
  • Spas, Thai massage shops, excluding massage parlours
  • Gymnasia and boxing venues for training only
  • Bowling alleys and ice skating rinks, but no competitions or audiences allowed
  • Dancing academies
  • Martial art schools, but no tournaments or audiences allowed

Playgrounds, night entertainment venues, cock fighting, fish fighting, child care centres, theme parks, snooker clubs, bull fighting venues, massage parlours, tutoring schools and nurseries, however, are still ordered to stay closed.

The announcement comes after Bangkok saw 14 new cases today, joining 128 other cases reported in Thailand by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Meanwhile, plans for Chinese New Year seem to be on the back burner as the upcoming February 12 holiday has yet to see anything concrete to celebrate the new year. Pattaya city has decided to decorate its streets for the holiday, but like many other provinces, Chon Buri remains as a highly controlled zone, which essentially bans domestic and foreign tourists from entering, despite single digit infections being recently reported by authorities.

The lifting of the measures in Bangkok come after PM Prayut urged the publicto stay away from social gatherings, specifically pointing out political gatherings, which have rocked the streets of the nation’s capital for months.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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800+ people found in close contact with an infected food vendor in Nakhon Phanom

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800+ people found in close contact with an infected food vendor in Nakhon Phanom | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Brand Buffet

Local disease control workers are continuing to track and trace Covid-19 infections at several villages in the That Phanom district of Nakhon Phanom, north eastern Thailand. The areas were locked down after a 51 year old local food vendor tested positive for Covid-19 and more than 800 people were reported to have had contact with the infected person.

According to the CCSA spokesman, the vendor had been in contact with many people who have been to high risk areas including Bangkok and Rayong. About 10 people in Nakhon Phanom are at high risk of infection from the vendor, but tested negative, while nearly 1,000 other people are at low risk.

Nakhon Phanom’s governor says 5 people, in close contact with the vendor, tested negative, while the other 829 are waiting for their test results. He adds that the active case finding is continuing in the nearby villages and areas.

“Places visited by the infected person are thoroughly cleansed every day.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya hotels take food to the streets in bid to survive

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Pattaya hotels take food to the streets in bid to survive | The Thaiger

Pattaya’s hotels are taking their restaurants to the streets by offering food stalls outside and delivery in a bid to save their businesses during the Covid-19pandemic. Such changes in their attempts to avoid closing, come as city officials say they will use funds to spruce up the city for Chinese New Years on February 12.

As Chonburi province is still declared as a “high-risk” and “highly-controlled” area, all hopes of domestic and foreign tourism have been dashed as visitors are essentially banned. Even with recent virus infections down to just 1 over the past 3 days and single digits in the last week, the strict measures have not been lifted.

After Covid hit, hotels in Pattaya relied more on domestic tourists, which appeared to be working for several months after the city held more outdoor festivals to increase tourism traffic. Now, without domestic tourists helping to curb the financial downfall, the hotel industry has met many times with province leaders and represetatives from the Social Security Office of Thailand to ask for a forced legal closure which would allow their formal staff to get paid through social security benefits at roughly 50% of their daily wages.

The requests so far have been denied, leaving 30,000 hotel workers in Pattaya alone out of a job. Some hotels have managed to keep their employees and even providing meals and lodging for them. But smaller hotels have run out of money and are having to lay off staff without pay.

Such larger hotels as LK hotels and Dusit hotels are bringing their restaurant food to the streets and offering delivery but they say it is only to provide for their staff during these hard times. The Thai Government has stated they are looking at other options than a forced closure and social security payouts, but have yet to make a decision.

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