With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting globally, the world is also affected by the circulation of fake news. Fake news proliferation is a dangerous “Infodemic” and spreads fast through social media like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or Snapchat. These fake pieces of news contain useless, incorrect or even harmful information and advice which can create public panic, add social disorder and hamper the efforts of authorities and health workers.
Fake news may contain certain pieces of correct information mixed with wrong ones, making it difficult to distinguish between accurate news. Fake news is widely propagated and shared with family and friends, mostly among the older generation. We can do our part in stopping these fake news. Read the content properly, determine it’s validity before sharing or discarding it. Here are a few ways to identify fake news from accurate ones.
Question the source to know if it’s an authentic one. In most of the messages, the references will be like “Japanese experts” or “German doctors” or “Harvard University” during the outbreak. If you are doubting the same, check their official website for more information. If a source is “a friend of a friend”, there is a high chance for it to be a rumour. Authenticating the source is the best way to distinguish fake news from an accurate piece of information.
If the information is in the form of an image, please check if the logo of the organization used in the image is the same as on their website. The logo cannot be taken as a certainty. Even though the logo is the same, the information can be faked.
One of the easiest ways to find a piece of false news is the weak English used in the news. Credible journalists and organizations make lesser grammatical and spelling mistakes in their articles or content. Texts which are written entirely in capital letters or the usage of too many smileys or exclamation marks cannot be trusted.
Pretend Social Media Accounts
Some fake accounts mimic the original social media accounts. With a small change in the username, the parody accounts may be almost hard to distinguish. One of the easiest ways is to check for the verified blue tick which social media provides for handles and pages of celebrities and organizations. Media platforms try to remove the fake accounts as well as post, but if you come across one, make sure to mark it as spam.
While passing information, make sure that your source is trusted. By sharing a piece of fake information, you are doing more harm than good. For the best and accurate information about COVID-19, check the official website of the World Health Organization. Stop sharing fake news. Discourage others from spreading fake news.