Critical Discourse Analysis of COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory Videos. : A Study of Popular Videos in Arabic Media.
Abstract: COVID-19 hit the world causing global health, social and political problems. Exceptional misinformation about the pandemic has been circulating through social media and contributed to the public panic and confusion about how to deal with the crisis. In addition to fake news and rumors, conspiracy theories are among the most common type of COVID-19 infodemic.Given the prevalence of misinformation in the context of COVID-19 and the harmful effects of conspiracy theories on the people’s behavior, the purpose of this study is to investigate the following question: “How is the discourse about COVID-19 conspiracy theories, as presented through popular videos in the Arabic social media, structured to negotiate identities, and construct ideologies?The study applied the Van Dijk CDA framework to analyze the text, context, and worldviews. Empirically, it is based on a sample of the 13 popular conspiracy videos that circulated through Arabic social media.At the textual level, the analyzed conspiracy videos constructed conspiracy theories by narrating major themes:1) depopulation of the world to reach the target of the golden billion; 2) dismantling the existing economic system and establishing a new one; 3) genetically modifying the COVID-19 virus in the lab.Conspiracy theory videos presented five forms of conspirators to support the conspiracy structure: abstract conspirators (secret cult, elite); individual and family conspirators (Gates, Trump, Rockefeller, Rothschild, Tedros); organizational conspirators (WHO); corporation conspirators (Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna); and state conspirators (USA, UK, China).The conspiracy videos used several semantic and discursive practices including access, setting, lexical style, metaphor, rhetorical, and denial. Ant-Semitism, anti-western and Ismailism ideologies reflected in the videos, affected the world views and promoted the conspiracy narratives.The study suggests that the existing ComDEv strategies have to be revised and equipped with a thorough analysis of the conspiracy theories taking into consideration the proliferation of conspiracies in the post-truth era and its association with fake news and alternative facts
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