By exploiting open science during a health crisis to further their political aims, Bannon and Guo utilized Yan’s status as a research scientist fleeing Hong Kong to sustain public attention to the “COVID-19 as a bioweapon” narrative. While data repositories and preprint servers have provided crucial infrastructure for international collaboration on COVID-19, like other online platforms, they can also be used in disinformation campaigns, due to the legitimacy they confer by association. When lay publics and some journalists view these sites, they may inadvertently assume the content has been vetted or assessed in some official capacity, and is therefore sound science. Cloaked science can be particularly deceiving when it is surrounded by research from top tier scientists, universities, and institutes.
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