A lot of misinformation is flooding the internet right now. Although fake news spread is not new, when you believe misinformation about a deadly virus, it can kill! Here, we will discuss fake news detection to curtail the spread of inaccurate data.
A parliamentary sub-committee from the UK asked members of the public to give samples of misinformation regarding COVID-19. The committee has requested people to submit disinformation shared in private groups and closed apps like WhatsApp. Moreover, experts are asking the public to follow “information hygiene”.
Ways of fake news detection regarding COVID-19
Here are the top ways to stop misinformation online:
Think about what you are reading
All of us want to keep our friends and family safe and keep them in the loop when it comes to vital information. When you receive fresh suggestions or tips – via social media apps like Facebook and Twitter or messaging platforms like Email ID or WhatsApp – you might be quick to forward it to the people you care about.
Experts say that we should first take some time out to think. Please read the message properly before you send it to someone.
Verify source of information
Once you read the message and you feel doubtful about it, ask basic questions to the sender. Ask them where did they receive the news from. Consider a red flag if your source says that they got it from a friend who was also sent by a friend. Suppose someone replies that they got the message from their aunt’s colleague’s neighbor, consider such statements as red flags.
Some details in the message might be accurate. For example, if the post writes about hand washing, it is true. However, that doesn’t mean the entire statement is true. Other details can potentially be harmful and make unproven claims. For example, you need to do some fake news detection when someone tries to frighten you about the virus spread.
Remember, the trusted source of information will always be the public health bodies like WHO, NHS, and CDC. Experts might not be accurate, but you can depend on some against someone’s distant relative.
Ask yourself if it is fake news or not
Appearances are often deceptive. It is easy to impersonate official accounts of like reputed healthcare authorities and the government. Many people create fake screenshots to make it look like real information from a trusted public body.
You must check for verified accounts and websites before believing in any information. If you don’t find the same information from the verified accounts, the message you received might be fake. If a post or a link looks doubtful, it might be fake too.
Capital letters and mismatch of fonts can make fake news detection easy. You need to be aware to understand the difference.
Don’t share if you’re unsure
You will not be able to tell everyone not to believe a piece of fake information you just received. However, you can alert the person who sent you and also not spread it further. By not forwarding a post you are unsure of, you might save yourself from harming others.
We often post things stated by doctors or health experts, and that might be correct. But it would help if you were sure about the information you read and share. Make sure the text or photo you share is not edited to strip out of context.
Check each piece of information individually
Recently, a voice note has been circulating on WhatsApp. It has a woman speaking after translating the advice she heard from the colleague of a friend who works at a hospital. Thousands of people have been sharing it, and it was also sent to BBC News. However, the recording had a mix of correct and incorrect suggestions.
When you get a long piece of advice, it is easy to believe all that is written in them. You might think the entire thing as it includes one significant point, say hand washing. However, it doesn’t prove that the whole recording had the correct information.
Beware of emotional posts
Any information that makes you angry, fearful, joyful, or anxious tends to go viral. Fear is one of the biggest reasons behind the spread of misinformation. Information that makes you follow immediate call-to-action makes you anxious and fearful. We must be careful about such details. For example, people quickly believe statements that says a particular supplement can prevent the virus. However, following such a step can cause more harm than help.
Think about biases
Do you share something because you know it is accurate or because you want to believe it? People are more likely to agree with posts they believe in. But it is essential to retrospect if such belief is logical and factual or not.
Nodding your head angrily is easy, and that’s what most people do online. It is essential to be careful of such moves and take out some time to analyze what is correct and what isn’t.