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COVID-19 conspiracy theorists 'shamelessly' using 9/11 anniversary to spread misinformation, experts say

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/11/2021 bdawson@insider.com (Bethany Dawson)
a large city with smoke coming out of it: The Twin Towers up in smoke on September 11, 2001. Robert Giroux/Getty Images © Provided by Business Insider The Twin Towers up in smoke on September 11, 2001. Robert Giroux/Getty Images
  • 20 years on from the terror attack of the World Trade Center, conspiracy theorists continue to peddle misinformation.
  • Now, some are using the anniversary to spread falsehoods about COVID-19.
  • One message in a Telegram channel says the two events show "the elites waging a biological and genetic war."
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The anniversary of 9/11 is being appropriated by COVID-19 conspiracy theorists in a "shameless" fashion, experts say.

I News report that Telegram channels - a site renowned for hosting far-right and conspiratorial groups - are sharing messages conflating the two events, describing the pandemic and the terrorist attack as "the elites waging a biological and genetic war against the population."

The paper states that one message reads: "Right now, with the excuse of a false pandemic crisis, we find ourselves in a similar situation, where our freedoms and constitutional rights are being threatened worldwide, in order to impose a toxic gene-therapy vaccine, using bribery."

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe to get and is not "gene therapy," with Dr. Adam Taylor, a virologist and research fellow at the Menzies Health Institute, Queensland, Griffith University, told Reuters, "there is zero risk of these vaccines integrating into our own genome or altering our genetic makeup."

Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, told I News: "Conspiracy theorists shamelessly recycle outlandish claims to fit the story of the day-whether it's the anniversary of 9/11, the pandemic or any other major news story.

"Their propaganda has been given new life by technology owned by companies that turn a blind eye to the spread of hate and misinformation.

"As we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, these outlandish conspiracy theories cause pain to the families of the thousands of victims-as well as create new threats to the general public."

Bill Gates has blamed social media for the rapid, viral spread of COVID-19 conspiracies.

"9/11 was the first major crisis to take place in the social media era," said Dr. Aram Sinnreich, professor in the school of communication at American University, told Forbes - and social media has become only more prevalent in everyone's lives.

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