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RT uniting far-right and anti-vaccine activists in protests

May 14, 2020

German MP Franziska Brantner (The Green Party): Russia Today is one of the catalysts for uniting far-right and anti-vaccine activists in protests

Franziska Brantner
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S.Stache

“We also have evidence that actors like Russia Today bring two groups together and help to mobilize for those causes in very different sectors of society,” said MP Franziska Brantner (Alliance 90/The Greens) on DW’s digital talk “The Debate" about recent anti-lockdown protests across Germany.

“We are trying to look into who is bringing these groups together. We don’t have all the knowledge we need. What we know so far, what combines these groups, is that they are sceptical of science, they don’t trust scientific knowledge. These are the same people who also deny climate change,” referring to the questions that “normal citizens with normal concerns could end up being instrumentalized by far-right or anti-vaccine activists.” She added that social media platforms have a huge impact on the spread of false information and demands a legal framework for dealing with them as a democracy. 

According to sociologist Jen Schradie “social media are designed for simplistic and basic false information.“ She said that "social platforms do a terrible job because their algorithms are actually designed to promote disinformation and fake news. It is easy in just a couple of words, in brief headlines, to see what this information is, and it's also negative information. And that kind of simplistic, dramatic and sensational information is what social media and algorithms promote." Nevertheless, for Schradie, far-right movements are not a just a Covid-19 issue or consequence of social media. The main problem is that civil society tends to support their leaders. 

MEP Sandro Gozi said: "All the traditional media are more and more looking for sensational news, more and more for conspiracy theories," criticizing the negative impact that social media have on traditional media in France. 

The virtual talk “Conspiracies, lies & the Coronavirus ‘infodemic’: How contagious?” is hosted by DW’s Melinda Crane und France24’s François Picard and will be broadcast on DW’s TV channel “DW English” on May 16 and May 17 and on YouTube .

 The guests: Jen Schradie is Assistant Professor at Observatoire sociologique du changement (OSC), at Sciences Po, in Paris. She is also the author of “The Revolution That Wasn’t: How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives”. Sandro Gozi was Italy's former Under-Secretary for European Affairs in both Matteo Renzi’s and Paolo Gentiloni’s cabinets. He also served as EU advisor to the French government and is now a Member of the European Parliament. Franziska Brantner is a Member of the German Bundestag for The Green Party.

Watch the show on DW’s website