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A rumor spread that a particular grocery store was going to shut down at midnight the other night, and not open again. We heard that from listening in on one part of a phone conversation. (Working at home reveals much.)

We saw another awful dystopian theory on Facebook we'll not even share. This crisis has only exaggerated social media's ability to spread stupid stuff.

The European Union says Russia is behind much of it.

If you think Arkansas has an inferiority complex, Russia has it in spades. Or at least those running the late USSR have it. They take insults, or perceived insults, as seriously as our mainland Chinese pals. And as it sometimes is with these complexes, those affected by them try to tear down others in an attempt to make themselves taller, in a sense.

According to the Associated Press, "Disinformation experts say Russia has steadily chipped away at the European Union's image since 2014 by supporting far-right and anti-European political parties, and also by attacking the integrity of mainstream media. The fast-spreading virus could offer a new avenue to do that."

Those who study these things at the EU say Russia's state media and news outlets--their major news channels!--are waging a fake news campaign "aimed at undermining public confidence in the ability of European health-care systems to cope with the coronavirus."

The Russians are putting out disinformation--"fake news" items--such as these:

They've released stories that have said covid-19 is less harmful than the flu. That it was developed in the United States. And that ibuprofen makes the disease's symptoms worse. (Hey, we've seen that one!)

According to NPR's report Friday about that ibuprofen claim: "[M]ost infectious disease experts say there's no good scientific evidence at this point to support that claim." That's the NPR way to say horsehockey.

And as more and more people use the Internet to search for "coronavirus" or "covid-19", more of these stories pop up on their monitors. Sharing these fake stories only takes a click. Misinformation is easier to spread than this new coronavirus.

You'll note that Russia is handling this crisis better than any country. As of Friday, Russia has confirmed only 199 cases. And if you believe that, we have a bridge over the Volga to sell you.

Also, you'll note that the Russians, when confronted, go on the attack. The spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said the EU's research, analysis and accusations were just another smear campaign against Mother Russia and the new tsar, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

"If there is no evidence, it's impossible to accuse and to conduct such an aggressive information campaign, which is verging on an attack," the spokesman said. "We ask colleagues from Brussels to stop using memes about the alleged Russian threat and to focus in this difficult situation on helping Italy, Spain and other EU countries that are suffering from the coronavirus."

Well.

Leaving aside whether it's impossible to accuse, we note the Russian brass will try to accuse their accusers of doing exactly what they've been accused of doing: using fake memes and the like. The Russian brass certainly has a lot of it.

In this time of crisis, remember the United States still has enemies in the world, or at least bad actors who don't wish us the best. And give it one more thought, or maybe two, before sharing that meme on Facebook.

Editorial on 03/23/2020

Print Headline: Russian hoax

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