Have you heard that everyone is going to die if they get the coronavirus? That the coronavirus outbreak has been created by the Chinese government as a man-made bioweapon to kill humanity? That eating Chinese food or drinking Corona beer will give you the virus? Have you read that the coronavirus is actually a cow virus that scientists have known about for years? And to help ease your sickness, drink garlic water, silver, and ‘miracle minerals’?
That’s all fake news, and false facts are exactly what we need to stay away from in a time like this. Social media like Twitter, Tik Tok, Instagram, and Facebook are all filled with misinformation – fake facts grab people’s attention, and cause hysteria. It’s important to be aware of what is actually happening and be well informed during events like a health emergency to protect yourself and others.
It’s very important to stay away from false information, and right now is the perfect time for misinformation to spread. Many people are worried and will believe what they hear and see on social media. A Stanford professor named Jeff Hancock said that people’s anxiety and uncertainty about coronavirus can lead them to believe misinformation.
Coronavirus isn’t a weapon made by the Chinese government, nor did it emerge in bat soup or in cows. According to the CDC, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. A new strain was first seen in Wuhan, China. On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced an official name for the new coronavirus – coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Some coronaviruses cause illness in people and some can cause illness in animals, COVID-19 can infect animals and people.
“It’s a mild-to-severe respiratory illness with fever and cough,” stated Yale New Haven Health in a March 2020 article. The CDC says that symptoms include coughing, fever, tiredness, a loss of smell and taste, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms can develop after two weeks of being exposed to the virus. There are also people who are asymptomatic, that is carrying the virus, and have no idea that they have it and are spreading it. According to WHO, the coronavirus is more deadly than the flu.
It’s even not reliable to listen to the government, or more specifically, President Donald Trump. There are even conflicting reports coming from state and federal governments, and people of opposing parties. According to The New York Times, on April 23rd at a briefing, President Trump said that an “injection” of a disinfectant like bleach or isopropyl alcohol could help combat coronavirus. After hearing that these products along with sunlight are effective at killing the virus on surfaces, he proposed that bringing light inside the body or disinfectants inside the body might be effective. Clorox and Lysol then had to make statements to the public that it isn’t safe to inject or ingest their products. He also made claims about other miracle cures and a vaccine that top health officials are contradicting.
Random videos on Tik Tok about people eating bats and “social distancing” aren’t reliable, so aren’t random graphics on Facebook of the numbers of deaths and cases. According to Statista, Facebook is the leading social network used for weekly news in the United States. Only 23% of Americans say they’d never trust news on Facebook. This is a scary reality.
It’s up to the people to make sure they are getting the best information because there are a lot of unknowns and constant developments in this situation. There’s something new every day. There are many ways to calculate the relevance and reliability of a news story. A 2020 Harvard University Summer School article titled “4 Tips for Spotting a Fake News Story” stating that readers should always check the credibility of an article, where it was found, pay attention to the timeliness, and the facts that the article has sourced. In addition, reading multiple sources and not always relying on one can help spot inaccuracies. There is also the renowned CRAP test which stands for Currency, Reliability, Authority, and Purpose. Often, if a source makes you feel angry or upset, look at the facts and reliability, because it could easily be fake.
USA Today published an article on March 21, 2020, called “Welcome to the first social media pandemic. Here are 8 ways you can stop the spread of coronavirus information.” This included taking 20 seconds to research something before sharing, not spreading posts about prevention or cures because they could harm others, and being aware if a post causes fear. Try to keep partisan politics out of mind when consuming information, don’t hop on bandwagons and don’t trust everything you see. Do a google search to see if photos have been edited and manipulated. And because there’s a constant stream of information and news, it’s not safe to believe everything about developments, even if it’s from a reliable source, unless it’s proven and covered multiple times again.
Reliable sources to get your information about coronavirus would be the World Health Organization, the CDC, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health because they are official departments and organizations that are fighting the virus head-on and specialize in protecting the people’s wellness. Find the facts, educate your family and friends, stay calm, and keep healthy.