Lockdown-related manipulation

Lockdown shown as an arbitrary decision of the government

Another lockdown is supposed to come in autumn

OSNABRÜCK. The Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and a politician from the Green Party, Janosch Dahmen, are beating the drum for[1] strict Covid measures to be enforced in autumn. One word has, until now, been a taboo[2]: the next lockdown. The president of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has broken the silence about it. This trio is preparing the groundwork[3] for introducing strict new measures[4].

Montgomery has said the following to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (note: German regional newspaper): “The Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has to adjust the Infection Protection Act, so that strict measures can be taken in case the epidemiological situation becomes critical in the whole country.” This law must also “include the possibility of a lockdown” as an “ultima ratio”.

A commission composed of experts will indicate which measures have been helpful in the past, and which have not.

sagt:, Hänschen, et al. “Im Herbst Soll Doch Wieder Ein Lockdown Kommen.” JUNGE FREIHEIT, 30 May 2022, https://jungefreiheit.de/politik/deutschland/2022/im-herbst-soll-doch-wieder-ein-lockdown-kommen/.

  1. To “beat the drum for“ means to advocate for something very strongly. In this context the expression is biased, because the aforementioned politicians only advocate for strict Covid measures in case the epidemiological situation becomes severe.
  2. It is misleading to call something taboo simply because politicians have not said it, so far – maybe the situation so far has simply not been severe enough to warrant a lockdown. To some readers, the word “taboo” may suggest some kind of conspiracy.
  3. The expression “preparing the groundwork” may also evoke the feeling that there is some kind of conspiracy going on.
  4. This is misleading and confusing, because a lockdown is not a “new“ measure. Neither is wearing a face mask, nor limiting contact with others. Other measures are not mentioned in the article.


The article operates with information that is technically correct and also includes the interview with Frank Ulrich Montgomery as a source. However, the text includes various expressions that attempt to influence the reader’s emotions (see footnotes).

The most problematic part of the article is the headline. The body of the article indicates that the politicians are considering lockdown as a measure that may be necessary in case the epidemiological situation becomes very bad this autumn. When looking only at the headline, the reader gets the idea that the politicians are already preparing the next lockdown. This is not true, and it doesn’t correspond with the information in the article.

The headline supports the image of lockdowns being something that are introduced for political reasons rather than health concerns (which is commonly claimed by disinformation articles). If politicians are already planning the next lockdown, as the headline suggests, then the reader can conclude that their decisions must be based on something other than epidemiological data.

A Study out of Columbia University shows that 59% of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked. When going through their social media feeds, people often only get information from the headline and do not read the rest of the article. When reading the headline of this article, the reader will get a very biased idea of what is happening – this disinformation technique is called sharebait.

Want to learn more about sharebait? Read another example here.

About the source:

Junge Freiheit is a German newspaper based in Berlin. It has been criticized for giving space to people from the extreme-right, and publishing advertisements for right-wing extremist organizations. It is said to “promote the New Right movement under the cover of conservatism”. It is typical for Junge Freiheit to interview politicians from established political parties (CDU and SPD) in order to appear more serious and credible. However, the paper frames the content from a right-wing perspective. The target audiences for Junge Freiheit are right-wing and nationalist oriented people, who are unsatisfied with Germany’s current social order. It had existed long before, but when AfD (German radical right-wing party) was founded in 2013, Junge Freiheit instantly became a major supporter of the party, as their target audiences are very similar. Information about Junge Freiheit is available on the website for the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung.


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