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How to identify fake news over internet and break the chain?

An Audio about coronavirus case at Norvic Hospital was shared on Facebook on Saturday and the rumor became viral on social networking sites. The fast circulation of fake news related to the virus created panic among the public. They kept on sharing it on social networking sites and also asking other people if it’s true. By the time, it was confirmed to be fake by Norvic Hospital, the rumor did all the dismay to people and their lives. Later the Nepal Police also arrested the violator.

In another incident the same day, people started sharing a voice message which requested people not to go outside as the Army would spray pesticides from the helicopter tonight. Some of them shared the news/voice message blindly while others kept on asking people for the news. The majority of them created a chain of terror, dismay among people. For which, Nepal Army had to release an official notice (see below) to tell the news to be a hoax. This is not the first time that such incidents happened in Nepal in the time of crisis.

Nepal Army Corona pesticides spray

Similarly, News24 covered breaking news which reported to have found a Corona Virus case at Birgunj. Although he hails from Birgunj, he was apparently diagnosed with the virus at Patna Hospital. Following the news, several people took it to their Facebook, Twitter and personal messages, creating the chain of terror. Other news media also covered the news in the same way. Later other news portals like Onlinekhabar, Kantipur started to report that the coronavirus case in Birgunj was not confirmed medically. In a matter of two hours, the original medical certificate of the person showed the Covid-19 infection as negative. This proves that even the mainstream online portal/ TV like News24 can deliver such fake news (unconfirmed news). So we request you to check multiple sources before confirming such sensitive news.

News24 Nepal TV appologize

This is what News24 wrote after the negative report arrived. The question remains if they would be reprieved or forgiven of the horrendous news.

Why be aware?

As the Coronavirus effect is growing globally, the misleading information about it has been flooded on social media, online media. A month ago, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that “….we’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as Dangerous”.

Due to the threats of COVID -19, people are being fearful and restless. So they are seeking for any kind of news due to uncertainty and also to reduce their fear. Which made them easily fall prey to those rumors, fake stories, misinformation. This kind of fake news creates panic and increases the anxiety level, which might hamper the immune system of the body. So it’s time to filter the news that is reaching you. Here is what you can do to filter those fake news, rumors and voice messages.

Identify the source

Before you read the news/message, try to find the source. There are many online news medias some with genuine objectives providing authentic news while others are just fake and made for clickbait earning. So before reaching for the messages, make sure whether it is an established platform, trusted sources or legitimate or it’s just passed on from a friend of your friend. Even if you read it, you might give a second if it is legitimate by finding the same news on other websites.

Newspapers

Follow trustworthy websites

The real updates and helpful information can be gained from the renowned news sources rather than from shared stories, messages, clips on social media. If you want to be careful and conscious about the disease, you can follow mainstream media and online portals for the updates.

Official news, information

The best trustworthy source to go for, regarding the Corona health information about Corona is the World Health Organization website.

You can also get the country-specific official information on Government portal or information centers. Calling over a toll-free number like 1115 or the UNICEF portal.

The government of Nepal has also started a portal to provide updates on the COVID-19 outbreak. Here you can also find the situation report, technical guidance, Hotline numbers and more.

Similarly, Google has also launched a portal to disseminate all the information about Covid-19. Here in Nepal, Fusemachines, the AI-based company has also developed a Covid Nepal portal to share all the genuine information.

Break the chain

If you want to be a responsible citizen and do not want to create distress to others while hampering yourself, then please don’t forward the messages, images, status, audio clips, video clips unless it is confirmed that the information is reliable. The fake news is generally quite surprising, bad and hard to believe, compared to the real one. You can verify whether the same news is available on other mainstream news platforms.

Cross-check

You can cross-check how recently the originator account has been created. Mostly such information comes from a fake person at first and then moves on like a fire. If the information seems suspicious, report it. If it doesn’t have a report feature, just ignore it and break the chain.

Here are some of the recommendations from our side.

  • Don’t share, forward, and not even like and comment such fake news, rumors.
  • Be cautious while sharing something with your friends and family that might be misleading and could harm them.
  • Give time to verify the rumor and double-check the authenticity of the information before passing it.

Unfeeding to Unfriending

Similarly, if Facebook is the regular social media that you follow and you notice a particular person providing falsified information, then you can filter them from your feed, unfollow, and ultimately unfriend such people if they continue. You can always complain to the local cyber crime-division of authorities to report such perpetrators.

In this phase of social distancing, we are isolated physically from our friends, family, and relatives. So instead of looking and browsing the fake news, we suggest you use social media and instant messaging to spend some worthy digital time and deepen the bonding with them.

READ Why the Internet is slow now in this COVID-19 threat and how to follow restraints in its usage?

There is nothing wrong with being updated on the virus and disease, but you don’t have to stay glued to your electronic devices. It is better to allocate some time, to get real information and measures about the Covid-19. So you can manage a larger chunk of time to self-care, watch movies, read books you have wished to read for a long, listen to the music that uplifts your mood, write a journal, blogs, make your favorite dish, have quality time with your family, take care of your elder ones.

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We request you to be conscious of the virus but don’t be overwhelmed by it. The anxiety and fear of the virus threat can also harm you. So be aware of such fake news over the internet and act responsibly to break the chain for spreading such rumor. Stay at home, the ultimate medicine to break the chain of spreading the virus.

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