Stopping the Spread of COVID-19 Misinformation

By:  |  Category: Blog Wednesday, March 25th, 2020  |  No Comments

It’s amazing how our landscape can shift so drastically, so fast, and within weeks our entire lives and routines are almost unrecognizable.

The constant influx of information on COVID-19 hasn’t helped to quell our fears, or console us in any way, partially because so much of the spreading information is far from fact.

This is the world’s “first social media pandemic,” says University of Washington professor Carl Bergstrom, “the population is relying heavily on social media for information.”

Oh, social media: the thing we love, and love to hate. In a world where ‘social distancing’ is the number one priority and punishable by law, citizens of all countries are glued to their devices to keep in contact with their loved ones via social media.

What else is heavily pushed through social media and word of mouth? The spread of misinformation.

It’s not true that to ward off infection you should “Sip water every 15 minutes, gargle with ethanol or eat raw garlic,” neither is it true that “The coronavirus was cooked up in a bioweapons lab by the CIA, or the pharmaceutical industry, or was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to boost vaccine sales.”

Yet misinformation like this is spread faster than wildfire throughout not only our nation, but the world as we look for answers during this global health crisis.

“According to a new Pew Research Center Election News Pathways survey. About a quarter said the coronavirus was deliberately developed in a lab and another 6% said it was accidentally made in a lab, both conspiracy theories circulating on social media.”

Instead of truth, online people are encountering “profiteers hawking ‘cures,’ cyber thieves trying to steal their personal information, ideologues who distrust science or troublemakers intent on sowing confusion and distrust.”

Dhavan Shah at the University of Wisconsin-Madison says, “This is a moment where misinformation can have life-and-death consequences.”

Three types of misinformation have been identified so far at the Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Computation Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems, these are; fake cures (colloidal silver, steroids, acetic acid, cocaine etc.), false information about “the nature of the virus” (children cannot catch it), and conspiracy theories about where It originated (Russian or Chinese bioweapons labs).

The WHO and groups like Carnegie Mellon’s are fighting back against the spread of misinformation, working with social media platforms, influencers, and internet search sites to instead promote accurate news about the virus. 

The best way to “practice better information hygiene?” MSN has some suggestions:

  • Arm yourself with FACTS – be sure they are from credible sources.
  • Take 20 seconds to research before sharing – don’t promote information you’re not sure about.
  • Do not spread misinformation about prevention or cures – PERIOD, these can be dangerous.
  • Beware of posts that deliberately traffic in fear – there’s a reason they’re aiming for fear.
  • Don’t trust everything you see – research, research, research.
  • Don’t join the crowd – blind panic is just that, blind.
  • Keep partisan politics out of it.
  • Uncertainty sucks, get used to it – we’re all in this together. 

If you’re struggling in these times to find an available IT or cybersecurity service that can assist you or your team to working remotely, DarkHound SecOps can answer any questions you have, 714-970-9330.

-Emmy Seigler

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/welcome-to-the-first-social-media-pandemic-here-are-8-ways-you-can-stop-the-spread-of-coronavirus-misinformation/ar-BB11oYLO?li=AA4Zoy

Image Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/business-computer-connection-contemporary-450035/

Samantha Keller
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