Conspiracy theories exist about nearly half of large Dutch companies
There are conspiracy theories online about nearly half of large companies in the Netherlands, BNR reports after searching the brand names of the 25 AEX-listed companies on social media. The broadcaster found conspiracy theories about 12 companies, mostly on Telegram, which has virtually no measures against disinformation.
The nature of the conspiracy theories varies wildly. One says that Unilever puts “corpse sludge” in food, though it also claims that McDonald's is part of Unilever. ING allegedly “disappears” savers’ money and facilitates ATM bombings to hasten the transition to digital currency. Another theory states that Albert Heijn organizes “controlled food shortages” by deliberately destroying vegetables. DSM and Akzo both allegedly spread “chemtrails.”
According to the broadcaster, someone suggested that Prime Minister Mark Rutte “needs” the Ukraine war to “keep MH17 under wraps.” Another says Shell is keeping the war going to keep energy prices high. There’s also a theory that Shell has secret shale gas contracts for the site of the MH17 disaster.
A recurring theme is the World Economic Forum (WEF), an annual meeting of business executives and politicians. One conspiracy theorist noted that WEF-affiliated companies are doing well despite the looming economic recession. “Unilever, Shell, Heineken, and Heinz make billions in profits. All WEF companies. Haven’t we figured it out yet?” Another theory states that ASML cooperates with the WEF’s plan to chip people. And that Philips' dental care subscription model is part of WEF’s plan to end private ownership.
Heineken allegedly has satanic references in its logo. KPN makes it impossible to send information about Joe Biden’s son via their internet connections, according to another theory. AEGON allegedly knows the cause behind the excess mortality and uses that knowledge to reinsure life insurance policies. And Signify’s “smart lamposts” spy on the population.
Despite their lack of substantiated evidence and often unfollowable logic, conspiracy theories can still have significant consequences for the people and businesses they touch. The arson attacks on 5G masts in 2020 are an extreme example of this.
Last month protesters showed up at Eneco’s head office in Rotterdam to burn their energy bills and shout slogans about “The Great Reset,” the title of a policy proposal by WEF chairman Klaus Schwab. And camera crews showed up at the online supermarket Picnic after a fire at a delivery point prompted a conspiracy theory that it hid a cultured meat factory funded by Bill Gates.
Responding to these theories can often exacerbate the problem, Ronald Kroes, an independent communications manager and interim spokesperson, said to BNR. But there are things companies can do to guard against conspiracy theorists.
For example, have a game plan ready for if you get targeted, Kroes said. “Companies practice crisis scenarios all the time: a fire, a cyberattack, a visit from a regulator. Add these kinds of scenarios to it. You don’t know how you’ll be involved in a conspiracy theory. But if you have thought about it and discussed how to deal with it with the management, you are already a lot further along.”