COVID-19: How to avoid spreading fake news

By Ahmad Auva Nadiyyi Kaff

In handling the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of us should be more careful when sharing information on social media. Fake news, inaccurate or wrong information not only cause confusion but could result in unnecessary alarm and panic among the public.

People are alway chasing for information and want to be the first to disseminate the news as quickly as possible, but reckless sharing of information can worsen the situation. Trusting unverified facts, spreading false information, all of these can further harm to the community.

Not only fake news will mislead people but sometimes news from someone whose credibility is doubtful could also create discomfort.

Several principles therefore can be used when sorting out information to determine its accuracy and in trying to process the data.

Be sceptical of the headline

Misinformation or false news often has an eye-catching title with the capital letters or exclamation mark. Therefore, do read the contents of the news in full. In other words, someone is advised to read the news content, not just reading the title. This is a piece of simple advice and often heard, but many people often miss the point as in the example of the following headline:

“Coronavirus Can Be Transmitted Through the Eyes”

If people read the headline only, then people might speculate that only by making eye contact with a person who is Covid-19 positive a person can be infected, even though the content of this news is more complicated than that.

Pay attention to the contents of the information

Always pay attention to the contents of the information, not just where the source of information comes from. It is really important for us to select the information based on the source. Ask if the source of information is credible or not? Does the source come from a someone competent to make the statement? We also need to see and observe the contents of the information presented. Simply because the person or the institution that is considered a credible source could be misinformed. It often happens between one source with another source, both may be trustworthy, but each might have different views and interpretations.

Be fully informed

Do not look and read the information in partiality, rather read it in total. For example, reading this death rate from Covid-19: 

“COVID-19 mortality rate below 4%” 

Someone who only reads this news will underestimate the danger of the virus. However, if we dig further for more in-depth information, we will find that the mortality rate is obtained because of the conditions under which the battle has been fought against the virus, such as the lockdown, the quarantine move and adequate health facilities provided. And if we don’t meet these terms and conditions, how would the death rate be that low or significant? ***

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