In the meantime, however, people are spending more and more time online. While the internet has been a blessing in some cases—charity drives have assisted the vulnerable and online classes have helped children and students continue their education—it has also fed a growing storm of disinformation, fake news and hate speech about the virus.
Hate speech, online or in other media, is nothing new for Armenia. Like most countries around the world, social media platforms have become amplifiers for disinformation, fake news and hate speech against women, minorities and other groups.
But human rights defenders and media observers note the trends have been accelerated by the coronavirus and our new reality.
Gegham Vardanyan, the editor of Media.am website, notes that Armenian media outlets usually spread whatever type of disinformation is trending in the world—which today is the coronavirus.
"In general, in the case of rapidly developing events, the volume of false news grows. It happens during political and civil movements, natural disasters, major disasters or celebrations. Covid-19 was no exception,” he says.
“There are many false, half-true, manipulative and mythical rumors about the origin, spread and treatment of this virus, they are spreading and I think they will spread in the future too.”