Berlin public transport operator pokes fun at coronavirus conspiracy theories

Berlin public transport operator pokes fun at coronavirus conspiracy theories
A tram in Berlin. Photo: DPA
From Bill Gates to cell phone radiation, Berlin's public transport provider humorously shed light on a growing number of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus circulating around Germany.

Playing on conspiracy theories which have circulated around Germany about the coronavirus in the last weeks, Berlin transport provider BVG published a tweet poking fun at the various myths. 

Their jokes included:

  • “Don’t be afraid of 5G, there's not even 3G with us,” they wrote, making light of the poor reception within many trains and the theory about cell phone radiation spreading the virus.

  • “Brandenburger Tore (English: Gates) are stuck to the Fenstern (English: Windows),” they said, describing the target of many conspiracy theorists’, Microsoft founder Bill Gates.  

  • People, avoid Kotti [referring to the U-Bahn station Kottbusser Tor, known for being a crime and drug dealing hotspot]. Everybody injects [impfen] themselves there. The verb ‘impfen’ means both inject and vaccinate in German.

  • Watch out for the kiosk sellers. They want to implant potato chips.

The BVG is famed for its satirical sense of humour. In December, they applied for UNESCO World Heritage status, humorously portraying in a parody video that their historically slow and antiquated service qualifies them as a landmark.

READ ALSO: 'Nope, no joke': Berlin Transport Authority applies for UNESCO World Heritage Status

Growing conspiracy theories and protests

The growth of conspiracy theories in Germany, however, has not been seen as a laughing matter by the many politicians and scientists who have spoken out against the spread of misinformation.

On Tuesday, Charite virologist Christian Drosten criticised millions of YouTube videos, which are “full of nonsense” – even by “apparent experts”.

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“The idea that the pandemic was deliberately brought about in order to control the people, and that Bill Gates or other supposedly sinister powers are behind it, reaches far into the middle of society,” Thuringian Minister of the Interior Georg Maier (of the centre-left Social Democrats, or SPD) told the news magazine Der Spiegel last week.

In many German cities there have been demonstrations in recent days against the measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus – with demonstrators made up of conspiracy theorists, right-wing radicals, anti-Semites and anti-vaccination activists.

READ ALSO: Germany concerned coronavirus protests may lead to radicalisation

Some participants have included well-known figures such as Berlin chef Attila Hildmann, who made a call out to join them on his Telegram channel.

Many of the rallies have not been registered, and have turned violent, resulting in attacks on journalists and police.

There have been a number of theses, rumours and fake news spreading throughout social media outlets.

A chat bot was recently launched to clean up WhatsApp's corona rumor mill – the artificial intelligence answers users' questions about the coronavirus crisis and double checks widespread false information.

Vocabulary

conspiracy theories – (die) Verschwörungstheorien

an increase – (eine) Zunahme

rumours – (die) Gerüchte

fake news – (die) Falschmeldungen, or simply (die) Fake News

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

 

 


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