World Health Organisation has called the misinformation about the Covid-19 outbreak an ‘infodemic’
Last week, shortly after our honourable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, asked the country to applaud the work of medical practitioners, helpers during the Covid-19 outbreak, several Whatsapp forwards were circulated.
Like this one:
And, this was one of the messages that was being circulated after the 5 pm applause:
Some find these messages outlandish and immediately identify them as misinformation. But a lot, unfortunately, believe them and share them in several groups. Even a few celebrities on social media said the vibration from clapping has the potential to kill the virus. Fake news is always bothersome, but during a pandemic such as the one we are facing, it can especially be noxious as it has the potential to put someone’s health at risk.
“We are not just fighting an epidemic; we are fighting an infodemic”, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in February about the misinformation being spread about Covid-19.
Here are a few tools and platforms you can use to verify information and curb the spread of fake news:
World Health Organisation
WHO has partnered with Facebook to launch a messaging service, which it says has the potential to reach 2 billion people. Through Facebook and Whatsapp, users can get the latest information directly from WHO.
The service can be accessed through a link that opens a conversation on WhatsApp. Users can simply type ‘hi’ to activate the conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.
“From government leaders to health workers and family and friends, this messaging service will provide the latest news and information on coronavirus including details on symptoms and how people can protect themselves and others,” said WHO. “It also provides the latest situation reports and numbers in real time to help government decision-makers protect the health of their populations.”
Whatsapp, last week, unveiled its Coronavirus Information Hub worldwide to connect its users with local, national and global organisations — like the World Health Organisation — for reliable information. It has also tied up with several media organisations for fact-checking. Users can share the messages they need to check with these organisations, whose numbers are listed below.
This move is in partnership with WHO, UNICEF, the United Nations Development Program and Poynter.
It advised its users: “Think about the messages you receive, because not everything you are sent about coronavirus may be accurate. Verify the facts with other trusted official sources or fact checkers. If you aren’t sure something is true, don’t forward it.”
Numbers for fact-checking: +9173700 07000, +9198252 55790, +917700906111, +9177009 06588, +9196031 32132.
Twitter is bolstering its verification process in order to make it easier for health experts to get verified.
“We are working with global public health authorities to identify experts and have already Verified hundreds of accounts,” the company shared on its Twitter page.
Twitter had earlier shared that it will remove posts that deny “expert guidance” promote “fake or ineffective treatments”, or share “misleading content purporting to be from experts or authorities.”
You can also access Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network database of fact checks, which has over 800 articles already.
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