OHHHHH so many examples. SO VERY VERY MANY.
Millions of Americans now seem to have no ability to tell a crackpot news site from a reputable one. Many of us are apparently stupid enough to believe any website that claims to be authentic journalism regardless of the wild ludicrousness of its claims. Because--there are pictures! There are titillating claims! Never mind that the pictures are either faked or prove nothing; never mind that the claims are totally unfounded. And some disinformation websites are a threat to your life. NOW your danger of dying in a pandemic is increased because there are huge numbers of crackpot and disinformation false-news websites spreading bogus stories about the Coronavirus. The more confusion there is, when clarity is needed, the slower responses will be in the crisis; the greater the danger to everyone. Buzzfeed is trying to clear up this nonsense: Here's a Running List of Disinformation Spreading about the Coronavirus.
Crackpot false news sites--and youtube videos--use fear-inducing quotes that are obviously taken out of context and deliberately misinterpreted so the website can get people with no critical faculty excited--so the casual visitor to the page will send links to their friends, thus increasing hits to the site or the video, leading to advertising revenue. And sometimes leading to a furthering of murky racist, neofascist or Putin-promoted agendas.
What's the alternative? How about simply sticking with news sources that have won Pulitzer Prizes? Or just go with news sources that have a long, established history of being reputable. Oh but that's too much trouble. And following the reportage found in such places requires the effort of actual critical thinking.
How many people believed crackpot sites and youtube videos with made-up "evidence" claiming the Hilary Clinton was hooked into a secret child-sex-trafficking business in a pizza parlor? There was no such business there, of course. How many people believed that there was no Sandy Hook massacre, that the reportage on this very real tragedy was all some kind of plot to take away your guns? Astoundingly large numbers believed it--because Alex Jones "Infowars" websites, Facebook pages, and radio shows made the claim with utterly fallacious, wildly improbable utterly ridiculous evidence. Alex Jones was sued and admitted that all that he'd claimed about the massacre was WRONG, was a LIE...after his attorneys were confronted with mountains of *actual* evidence that the crime was real...and yet many people STILL maintain it was all a false flag operation.
The glory of the internet: it magnifies stupidity. If you're a little stupid, it makes you a lot stupid. There are a thousand complex, nuanced theses about the value of the internet and, alternately, about its destruction of values. But I suspect the main thing to be concerned with is madly simple. It is this: the internet magnifies stupidity. It's like one of those converters that boosts voltage...the voltage of sheer stupid. It's like insistently wearing the wrong prescription glasses-glasses intended for clarity suddenly make things blurrier. Lenses that increase blur! The internet intensifies imbecility.
According to the Washington Post, Russian internet operatives are spreading some of this disinformation about the coronavirus. Why? Just to experiment with spreading chaos? Hasn't it occurred to them that if they diminish clarity about the Coronavirus, the confusion will increase the chances it will not be stemmed; it will be more likely to spread widely including...to them? Yes the cunning Russian disinfo operatives are short sighted fools.