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同路人語631 – 面對虛假病毒資訊的挑戰 How to deal with fake Covid information

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面對虛假病毒資訊的挑戰

周偉文

早前, ABC刊出一個故事, 談及一些成長於澳洲的華裔移民第二代, 與父母討論對新冠病毒疫情問題的掙扎。他們的父母從微信及互聯網收到不少有關病毒、疫苗、隔離政策、防疫措施等以中文編寫及流存的訊息為主, 與兒女以英文從澳洲各政府所取得的訊息不同。文章顯示由於兩代人的資訊來源並不相同, 而在微信中存著不少虛假或錯誤訊息, 因此當父母們要決決如何面對新冠疫情持, 也持有不同看法, 不時與子女發生衝突。

我曾聽過有父母堅持要回香港接受中國科興疫苗, 不願留在澳洲接種阿斯利康疫苗, 因為不信任它的安全性。也有相信廣泛在中文互聯網平台傳開, 卻沒有科學根據, 認為以mRNA為基礎的疫苗會改變人的DNA,的說法。 現時浮現出對疫苗猶疑現象, 影響到澳洲接種疫苗的速度及程度, 將會決定澳洲是否能從新冠疫情中走出來, 及所受到的打擊。

明顯地, 少數族裔的兩代人, 對事物會有不同看法。不過對華人來說, 中國堅持以媒體及互聯網的資訊, 來繼續影響海外華人的生活, 已正在干預著澳大利亞的社會發展, 甚至是影響它的安全。要是華人中的一部份, 都不願相信疫苗的安全性, 只願意接種中國疫苗, 澳洲社會可以接受這一個不願參與接種計劃的少數族裔嗎? 其實其他少數族裔也有類似的情況。有收聽意大利本土電台的老意僑, 早前聽到意大利停止接種阿斯利康後, 拒絕接種疫苗, 卻不知道這是臨時措施, 今天意大利已恢復了接種。

有人指出, 現時互聯網上充斥著有關新冠病毒的虛假訊息, 部份可能是來自有國家要誇大西方國家對處理疫情的無能, 及社會所面對的困局。又或是要阻止疫苗的廣泛使用, 令到西方國家經濟倒下來。雖然這些猜想無法被證實, 但這結果卻又是不容忽視。

面對這些情境, 澳洲政府有需要作出更多向少數族裔的宣傳和教育。有人建議可在微信中作出廣泛宣傳, 以抗衡其中不實信息。殊不知微信有監控及審查制度, 而且中國向來有網軍組織宣傳, 要在這平台上推廣真實正確信息, 極不容易。

我相信最有效的, 是在澳洲本土少數族裔的民族社區平台上, 作出更多的教育和推廣, 才是有用的策略。因為只有這樣, 澳洲政府才能有效及在不受干擾下, 把正確的新冠疫情訊息, 向多元文化社區發佈及推廣。

How to deal with fake Covid information

ABC published a story about argument arising between Chinese immigrants and their next generation grown up here because update on Covid and vaccine etc. fed to the older generation through their social network of WeChat and online platforms with fake news and misinformation cause conflict with the other mainstream sources which their children hang on to.

I have also heard about parents saying they would go back Hong Kong for the Sinovac vaccine rather than risking the Astrazeneca jab here. In the Chinese social network there has been unfound claims that mRNA-based vaccine could alter human DNA. Such apprehension could adversely impact on vaccine rollout in Australia hence could defer freeing us from Covid bondage due to development of vaccine hesitancy. 

Obviously there is a generation gap of viewpoint among the ethnic minorities. China has been keen in influencing the life of Chinese communities aboard with the aid of Chinese social media to the extent of affecting the society and security of Australia. If Chinese here do not have faith in vaccine locally available but prefer Chinese ones, would that be acceptable to the local mainstream society? Indeed this also happens in other ethnic communities. There are old Italian Australians who are loyal listener of radio from Italy refused to take on Astrazeneca due to knowing the temporary suspension of the vaccine in Italy.

There are speculations that the purpose of spreading such misinformation is to heighten the failure of the Western world in combating the pandemic, or maybe as a further blow to their economy comeback by holding up wide-ranging vaccination.This may not be proved but it is a situation that Australians need to address.

The Australian government need to counteract by better informing the ethnic minority communities. An attempt to do it right back on WeChat cannot be easy because the platform is under tight surveillance/control by the Chinese government with their massive propaganda team.

I think it is more effective for better education and promotion be done through local community platforms of the various ethnic minorities. Only through this avenue the Australian government can dispense uninterrupted and accurate Covid update to the multicultural communities.

Raymond Chow, Publisher