Editorial: ‘Economic warfare’ and the rising use of misinformation
Ever wonder who keeps stoking the pot on issues like the alleged dangers of vaccinations or that the new 5G cellphones pose serious health hazards — even though medical science has long refuted such claims? To a large degree, it’s mostly part of a deliberate information-warfare campaign conducted by the Russians — and they’ve been doing it for years.
Take the latest fear-mongering campaign against 5G (fifth generation) cellphones launched by RT America, a Russian television network based in Washington, D.C. just a few blocks from the nation’s capital. In an April 14 news program, RT America aired a show alleging that children using 5G cellphones could suffer cancer, nosebleeds and learning disabilities. And in previous shows it has linked 5G signals to brain cancer, infertility, autism, heart tumors and Alzheimer’s disease in adults — all claims that lack scientific support. U.S. intelligence agencies have identified the network as a principal meddler in the 2016 electionworking with Russia.
Why would Russia try to influence Americans’ views on 5G systems? Easy: to slow the advance of 5G technological development in America, so they can either catch up or partner with others (Japan or China) and be a leader themselves.
The 5G cellphones represent a new wireless era in which technology will interconnect cars, factories and cities. According to the New York Times, whichever “nation dominates the new technology will gain a competitive edge for much of this century.”
“It’s economic warfare,” Ryan Fox, chief operating officer of New Knowledge, a technology firm that tracks disinformation, told a New York Timesreporter in a Sunday news story. “Russia doesn’t have a good 5G play, so it tries to undermine and discredit ours.”
The Kremlin “would really enjoy getting democratic governments tied up in fights over 5G’s environmental and health hazards,” added Molly McKew, head of Fianna Strategies, a consulting firm in Washington, D.C., that seeks to counter Russian disinformation. Back home in Russia, the Russians are promoting 5G systems as the new technology of the future.
The Timesreported that RT America first aired a program targeting the health impacts of 5G technology in May 2018, and have run seven shows since January 2019.Like most propaganda networks, they create a cable news show that can also transmit by satellite and then create an online streaming service; and, of course, it posts stories on Facebook and YouTube, which are spread throughout the country and world as mainstream news unaware they are acting on Russia’s behalf.
RT America has used the same fear-mongering strategies to spread false and misleading stories about the dangers of vaccinations among the American public; a story that keeps on living despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.
Americans must understand that the purpose of the propaganda isn’t to inform the reader, but to saturate the airwaves with misinformation that unsuspecting Americans spread through social media out of fear and concern for their children, or themselves.
The solution is plain: Americans must become better informed and understand media literacy. The challenge is that it’s much more difficult to prove good science to the public, than it is to spread fear and falsehoods.
In the meantime, don’t worry about using your cellphones — it won’t cause brain cancer, impotence or any other of the alarming diseases these television shows have been feeding you — and don’t be alarmed by this country’s development of 5G technology. And, please, do a little research before you spread questionable information on social media.
If something sounds outlandish, or alarming, check it out before you post — and if you’re getting it second or third hand, don’t repost unless you’re certain about the veracity of the content. In short, think before you post, and if you’re not sure, don’t repost.
And if the news source is RT America, you can bet it’s a bunch of hooey meant to serve Russia’s interests, not yours or America’s.
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