Viral Lies

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Manage episode 294189564 series 2526921
By The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, The Center for Investigative Reporting, and PRX. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

From anti-vaxxers to QAnon, we look at how misinformation spreads online – and the lives it disrupts.

There are lots of reasons people give for not getting a COVID-19 vaccine – lack of access, personal choice or general distrust. Then there are the conspiracy theories, which have spiked during the pandemic. The World Health Organization calls it “an infodemic,” where dangerous medical misinformation sows chaos and mistrust. So how do conspiracy theories spread? Reporter and episode host Ike Sriskandarajah unravels the history of the lie that there is a tiny microchip in each vial of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Then reporter Stan Alcorn digs into the origins of “Stop the Steal.” In 2016, it was the name of a right-wing activist group that spread the idea that the United States’ democratic institutions were rigged against Donald Trump. In 2020, it re-emerged as a hashtag attached to baseless Republican claims of voter fraud, gained huge audiences on social media and became a rallying cry among the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol building Jan. 6.

We close the show with a conversation between a mother and son who are divided over conspiracy theories. Lucy Concepcion is one of roughly 75 million Americans who believe the results of the presidential election were illegitimate. She also believes in QAnon. Her son, BuzzFeed reporter Albert Samaha, believes in facts. Samaha describes what it’s like when someone you love believes in an elaborate series of lies, and we listen in as he and his mom discuss their complicated and loving relationship.

322 episodes