THREE weeks into the enhance community quarantine, I am overloaded with Covid-19 misinformation. There are lots of unconfirmed, unverified information about the virus that are circulating in social media. There are also myths and bogus cure. These ‘fake news’ spread faster than the virus itself. The sad thing is that some people actually believe them.
Most people who forwarded or posted misinformation in their social media accounts probably had good intentions. The problem is that they don’t bother to check the information with credible sources. The result of this careless act is fear and panic.
I usually ignore fake news, but did not let one particular message go unchallenged. Somebody from our chat group chat posted a message saying that President Duterte will declare a total lockdown in the entire country for two weeks and urged people to stock on supplies because all establishments including markets and banks will be closed. The forwarded message urged everyone to spread the info.
Since this misinformation has the potential of creating panic, I strongly rebuked the sender. I ask him to verify the information first before posting. To warn him, I posted a news article dated March 25 that says the PNP will file cases against peddlers of Covid-19 fake news.
True enough, that message caused panic buying. Malacañang and local government units had to release statements in the news and social media to calm the people. “Rumors of a lockdown of supermarkets, groceries, wet markets and pharmacies are only ‘idle and wild talk’ being spread to the gullible by the usual rumormongers”, said presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
The social media is also rife with bogus remedies and magic cures. There was this video which promoted banana as cure for Covid-19. It quickly went viral. Within days, bananas became scarce and the price shot up. The University of Queensland, supposedly the source of this video, dismissed it as fake.
Some messages are plain stupid that I wonder why people believe in them. There’s this message that tells people to close their windows and doors and remove all clothes hanging outside. Allegedly, a helicopter will pass by at 12 midnight to conduct anti-Covid-19 spraying in the whole Luzon island.
This misinformation is not only happening in the Philippines but in other countries as well. In Iran, around three hundred Iranians have reportedly died and more than a thousand got sick after drinking methanol, also called methyl alcohol, amid false rumors that it can help cure the disease caused by the corona virus.
Next time, do not be quick on the draw. Verify with legitimate news sources before posting or forwarding information.
April 02, 2020
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