VK: people are easily swayed by disinformation about Covid-19 because they distrust state administration

The reason why some people in Latvia are easily swayed by disinformation about Covid-19 is the low level of of trust for the state administration and social network algorithms that provide these people with news based on their preferences, said representative of Latvian State Police Nora Biteniece at a meeting of Saeima’s parliamentary investigative committee on Friday, 8 October.
Biteniece outlines multiple cases of fake news being spread among residents. For example, there are claims the government plans to spy on residents using Covid-19 contact app, and that masks are actually harmful to people’s health.
The problem with state efforts to inform residents during the Covid-19 pandemic was that communication efforts were not unified and communication in general was complicated and implemented too late.
State administration should work on making communication more comprehensive, unified and informative, said the representative of VK.
It is typical for Latvia when disinformation is spread by local players who receive information from right-wing information sources in USA and US and Russian alternative ‘medicine’ websites, explains Biteniece. She also says State Audit organizes teaching on how to react to fake news and disinformation in general.
Opposition deputy Viktors Valainis from the Union of Greens and Farmers asked how the State Audit would evaluate «the disinformation employed by the ruling politicians in Latvia», who promised at first that Covid-19 vaccination would not be compulsory, and their ineffective communication in other topics.
Biteniece said at the start of Covid-19 crisis the situation had many unknown factors, adding that politicians did not intentionally mislead anyone.
State Audit representative also said the biggest problem is that restrictions were imposed at the last moment and the government did not do a good job of explaining the effect they will have on reducing the spread of Covid-19.
A different opposition deputy Ralfs Nemiro said more coordinated communication in this field, because currently it is too fragmented and is generally done differently by the prime minister, ministers and different institutions. Biteniece admits provision of information to residents is done in an inefficient manner, which is a problem that needs soling.