• Ankuran Dutta

#CheckTheFake -9: More subscribers and viewers than #COVID19 patients in hospitals

Updated: Apr 9



April 9, 2020

 Infodemics is making it tough for the people struggling for relief from #COVID19 pandemic.

All across the globe, doctors and other frontline warriors are making both day and night the same for freeing the world from novel coronavirus, but overload of misinformation and fake messages have raised the waves of infodemics to a more greater heights.

At the time, when #COVID19 cases have increased to nearly 15 lakhs affecting 209 countries and territories around the world and 2 international conveyances within a span of the last four months, the rise of infodemics during this pandemic has increased to millions in no time.

Moreover, researchers on #COVID19 have also found that the time between cases in a chain of transmission is less than a week.

While a social media specialist, Deniz Unay told the Turkish news agency 'Anadolu Agency' that there are over 3 billion posts and over 100 billion interactions on #COVID19, #coronavirus and similar hashtags; it has become difficult to trace, how many of these are based on facts and fakes.

But nevertheless, it is an open secret that thousands of social media bots are created, which are actually fake accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with a single goal of spreading fear and anxiety through fake news on novel coronavirus.

“Normally, we don't see such high levels of misinformation around health issues in India. Earlier, we would get two to three messages a week on health issues that we would fact check. Now, we get up to five to six messages every day, much of it on coronavirus”, says Shachi Sutaria, a fact checker focused on science and health, with Boom, one of India's leading fact-checking websites to Al Jazeera on March 10.

YouTube, which has more than 265 million monthly active users in India has also been at the forefront in spreading panic over #COVID19. One of the videos of ‘Prajapati News’, a YouTube channel with over 6.21 million subscribers, says the coronavirus spreads through seafood. This particular video was viewed 4.7 million times. Such kind of videos are helping Vishal Prajapati, the founder of the channel to draw in more subscribers – he says his subscriber count is increasing by more than 10,000 daily.

This increase in posts, viewers and subscribers attributing to the fake contents are laying down a red carpet to the infodemic over pandemic daily with a large gap of differences between the increasing percentage of false information and number of #COVID19 cases across the world.

FAKE: Novel coronavirus is spread through seafood (A YouTube video)

FACT: As of now, there is no such explanation or any confirmation from WHO about the spread of novel coronavirus from any animals. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways #COVID19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings.

But WHO has aware the people on its website that one can catch #COVID19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with #COVID19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch #COVID19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

People can also catch #COVID19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with #COVID19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

#CheckTheFake is a movement against #Infodemic in this crisis, initiated by Dr Anamika Ray Memorial Trust #ARMT (www.armt.in) in collaboration with The Assam Tribune and Northeast Now (www.nenow.in) to create awareness on #fakenews on #Coronavirus and improve media literacy through #Cartoons. ARMT Research

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