Spotting ‘Infodemic’ and Fake News Amid this Pandemic

By      07-Apr 2020       Reading Time: 6 Mins

Spotting ‘Infodemic’ and Fake News Amid this Pandemic

While you are busy protecting yourself from the coronavirus pandemic, have you thought of ways from saving yourself from the ‘infodemic’ as well?

What is an infodemic?

“Infodemic” is term which refers to an “overabundance” of information that makes it difficult for society to identify truthful and trustworthy sources from false or misleading ones. The over sharing of information is not harmful but sharing of even a single to few misleading sources or wrong information could cause a big harm. 

WHO warns that people around the globe are facing an “infodemic”. 

It seems dealing with pandemic comes with serious consequences and makes you deal with infodemic as well.

Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe mentioned that information, including disinformation and misinformation about the novel coronavirus is spreading faster than the pandemic itself. 

There is a difference between misinformation and disinformation which we need to understand and be able to differentiate. Disinformation is the spreading of these falsehoods purposefully while misinformation is the spreading of false or misleading information without knowledge or intent. We are seeing a lot of both on the coronavirus across social media platforms in countries around the world.

While the forwarded messages and videos on Whatsapp University might be helpful in teaching you how to make easy usable masks at home, it is also giving you gyan on having strange concoction combinations all day, taking supplements and specific yoga and diets for coronavirus. The only point is we are not sure if these things will really help us or just creating hype and causing panic among people.

What can be done?

To protect our few leftover pieces of sanity, it is crucial to differentiate between a fake news and a real news and here are a few guidelines that could help you do the same:

 

  • Be aware of the source

 

An instance of this could be information like regular flu kills more people than coronavirus, but is this information true? It could be somewhat true so make sure that it is from a credible source. Read website’s name and domain. Read, understand and think twice before sharing.

 

  • Don’t fall for photoshopped pictures and edited videos

 

Images are more effective and target people easily. It can also sometimes be misleading. They are anyway better in catching people’s attention; visual content has more audience than long-reading para ones. Find similar images on the internet to ensure if some duplicate content also exists.

 

  • Crosscheck the information

 

Since nowadays, we are more dependent on internet sources; it is easy to double-check the hyperlinks mentioned in the news. See if they take you to authentic sources. Check if there are multiple reports suggesting different point of views.

  • Understand all the angles of story

Always know both sides of the story. Many a times, news channels support a certain cause or belief. The sources are always mentioned in the story. Often, one-sided stories are part of a bigger political or corporate propaganda. Don’t fall being an easy target to spreading somebody else’s propaganda.

Concluding this, we can say that scientists and other experts are the “most trusted” individual source of information, making it critical that governments and employers cite these officials in their communications and keep such information openly and easily available for the public to access.

You can refer this link below to get authentic verified information:

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Over to you

We advise you to follow guidelines of the eminent and recognised World Health Organization (WHO) and not the other desi Whatsapp Health Organization (WHO). Media literacy is the term we all need right now.

Amid all this chaos, we request you to not forward or share messages/videos/photos or any piece of information that you are not sure about or doubt the source. This alone would help everyone of us to fight the infodemic.

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