“I was fed up with seeing nonsense circulating” … On the phone from California, Océane Sorel remembers very well the click that led her to create, last February, an Instagram account dedicated to the popularization of covid- 19 in the hope of putting a bit of “facts and science” back at the heart of social networks.
“I saw a series of fake news, including an interview that circulated with a lot of nonsense, on experimental vaccines, gene therapy, it made me jump,” explains the 34-year-old doctor in virology who, in answer, decides to create “ The french virologist “. She produces and publishes in quick succession two videographies on the transmission of the virus and messenger RNA vaccines, the subject of all concerns and much misinformation.
“Here there will be no politics, no beliefs or religion, nothing but facts popularized to enlighten the greatest number”, immediately warns the French expatriate in the United States. His videos, devoted to viruses in general, have increased in four months from 4,000 to 50,000 views on average.
“I explain things so that people can then detect what is fake and what is not fake,” she explains, confident that she “did not” realize before this pandemic how much communication between scientists and the general public was bad ”.
There are many people who told me “thank you, thanks to you I managed to talk to my sister or my father, I had the arguments to persuade her or him to get vaccinated”
Popularized scientific concepts
Point out infox, popularize sometimes obscure scientific concepts, all “with pedagogy”, sometimes humor and “without condescension” … Like Océane Sorel, several of them have descended into the arena to try to provide a counterweight to false information that have invaded social networks since the start of the epidemic in March 2020.
Some have scientific backgrounds and had so far not taken part in the online debate, others are long-time “fake news” trackers such as Sylvain Cavalier, a repentant conspirator, who is now working to provide information. arguments to its subscribers to help them detect the true from the false.
“I am in a benevolent, educational approach”, specifies this 32-year-old lawyer whose Youtube channel “Debunker of the stars”, created in 2016, is followed by more than 49,000 people. “I share the good sources, I do not necessarily try to counter-argue, it is useless to oppose the opinion of people head-on.”
“There are many people who have said to me ‘thank you, thanks to you I managed to talk to my sister or my father about it, I had the arguments to persuade her or him to be vaccinated'”, he adds, acknowledging that the task is much more delicate with the conspirators. “It can take a long time and I’m never the only factor. There is an intellectual journey. I am part of the link in the solution, but I am not the solution on my own ”.
“A drop of water in the ocean”
If we rule out those pre-existing to covid-19, a small score of citizen accounts, anonymous or not, would have “emerged since the start of the pandemic” in France to try to counter a wave of “medical, health and disinformation. very strong scientist ”, explains Rudy Reichstadt, founder and director of the site Conspiracy Watch, observatory of conspiracy.
With what effects? “It’s Sisyphean as a battle, there is no end,” he admits, referring to the character from Greek mythology condemned to endlessly climb and ascend a rock at the top of a mountain. “But the fact of not letting anything pass, I think that has a virtuous effect, that of tempering a little the extreme excitement of these circles. We probably help to hold back by the sleeve people who might be seduced by these speeches, but who do not rock because we play another little music that says “attention” “.
“Even if it’s a drop of water in the ocean, I prefer to do it rather than sit still”, agrees Océane Sorel. Maybe the drop of water will turn into a puddle and that will make the difference ”.
At one point, “it will run out of steam”, wants to believe on his side Sylvain Cavalier. “The less the measures weigh on people’s individual freedom, the less receptive they will be to disinformation about the coronavirus. At that point, the conspirators and the authors of fake news will return to more traditional subjects, such as politics (…) we too will have to be there to answer all that ”.
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