Honors Project - Open Access
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the role of digital spaces in the dissemination of health information. These online spaces present legitimate dangers for the future of global health, as they perpetuate COVID-19 conspiracies and promote the rejection of health authority. This thesis asks how digital social spaces allow for the spread of COVID-19 misinformation. Through a discourse analysis of conspiracy narrative news coverage, I study the development of three COVID-19 conspiratorial narratives: the Wuhan Lab theory, the Plandemic theory, and the 5G-Coronavirus theory. I aim to understand how these discourses took advantage of the unique character of digital social spaces to contradict reputable health authorities. The results of my analysis indicate that COVID narratives are built on reproduced conspiracy motifs, xenophobia, and medical populist rhetoric. They use traditional methods in journalistic epistemology and victimization plots to establish their knowledge claims as credible. Additionally, the circulation of misinformation in digital space is the result of conspiracy networks and AI algorithms. The conclusions drawn from this research indicate that mainstream media and knowledge producers need to change their methods of disputing conspiracy knowledge claims.
Odum, Finn, "COVID conspiracy narratives: Dissecting the origins of misinformation in digital space" (2021). Geography Honors Projects. 68.
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