In this aera, where news and social media cycles are spinning faster than ever and, public are constantly searching for new information. These are the platforms that billions of people rely on for news, the spread of fake rumors, news reports are common.
People having access to the internet and social media users share memes, photos, or videos without carefully considering the evidence behind their claims and this leads to misinformation and confusion.
As the disease is spreading, the misinformation about it is also spreading at a faster rate, which is just as dangerous as the virus itself. According to News Guard, the majority of information about coronavirus spread across social media comes from fake sites.
Since the first case of COVID-19, the social media is flooded with misinformation like, preventive measures for COVID-19 such as traditional African treatments and false remedies like drinking warm water with lemon, eating garlic, adulterated alcohol, hinders the fight against the illness, which put people’s health at risk.
Similarly, conspiracy theories accusing Wuhan, China for the emergence of the new virus; rumors abounded that virus is a result of biological warfare that the Chinese government lost control of or it was started because of eating bats, blaming 5G cell towers for spread disease, etc.
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Several measures have been put in place to control the spread of fake news. The World Health Organization (WHO) is using its existing networks EPI-WIN to track fake information in various languages. They also asked technology giants to filter out false news and promote information from credible sources.
The WHO has also launched a health alert on Whatsapp and chatbot on Facebook Messenger to provide accurate information about the virus. Google removed all the misleading information about COVID-19 from YouTube, Google Maps, and, its development platforms like play and in advertisements.
Twitter is checking accounts that are having believed information about COVID-19 and monitors conversation. Twitter wrote in the blog posted on Wednesday, “We have launched a new dedicated search prompt to ensure that when you come to the service for information about the #coronavirus, you’re met with credible, authoritative information first”.
Sanket Shah, clinical assistant professor for biomedical and health information search at the University of Illinois, Chicago said that-“Platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and others are actively combating misinformation through real-time partner ‘fact-checking’ organizations and technologies.”
Experts said sources such as WHO or Centres for disease control and prevention can provide better information than from unknown websites or accounts.
To reduce the spread of misinformation certain steps can be followed by all to protect ourselves and our networks.
– By reporting any false information to platform administrators.
– Verifying the information before sharing it with others.
– Don’t leave false information on online networks and stopping others to do so.