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Tech Shock: Charles Kriel on disinformation

To kick off series 3 of the Tech Shock podcast, disinformation expert Dr Charles Kriel talks to Vicki and Geraldine about the misuse of personal data, and how “yoga mums” have been drawn to Covid-19 disinformation and conspiracy movement QAnon. 

Disinformation around Covid-19 is hugely prevalent, and has only been amplified through digital. Dr Charles Kriel – writer and co-director of Dis/informed – says we need to understand why people fall into disinformation “rabbit holes”, and how this process is abused by those in power.

For example, vulnerable groups – whether due to financial instability, mental health or addiction – are particularly at risk of falling victim to unethical data-sharing practices, which in turn leads to them becoming victims of disinformation. 

Kriel says this also includes women “who are suspicious of the global healthcare industry and the pharmaceutical industry – and who are suspicious of doctors because healthcare is largely designed for men and then adapted for women.” This audience, he says, is “easier to target – by bringing in alternative narratives around Covid, children and paediatric care”. 

An example of this is the way the Qanon conspiracy theory movement appropriated the hashtag, #SaveTheChildren. “By adopting this hashtag, they brought networks of mothers and vulnerable people into their conspiracy theory as well.”

Listen to Series 3, Episode 1 to hear the full podcast.

Stream and download now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and other platforms.