Uncertainty regarding the Coronavirus is leading to belief in erroneous information
As people maintain distance from one another to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, the social media is an ideal way to stay in touch with family, friends and work colleagues. However, unfortunately, social media themselves can be a source of wrong information and bad advice. Such information can do a great deal of harm.
Social media are allowing us to gain knowledge about information that is circulating our social world at an extremely fast pace. We can receive information on the coronavirus in our country and other parts of the world instantly. Social media are also an important way to keep socially in touch with one another – something that is very important to our psychological health now that we have started to drift apart socially.
It is important to verify information related to health through established news sources rather than stories that are uploaded on social media. It would be wise to go to the WHO website and news portals such as Euronews that are offering free access to information on the coronavirus.
Fake news, when compared to real news, tend to be surprising, worrisome or have the intent of inciting anger and anxiety. Any such piece of information that worms its way into the news should be verified. Other sites that should be approached with caution include sources that are unknown and messages that focus on partisan topics.
I believe that communication through social media reflects our fears and concerns about the virus. As people are striving to learn more about it and while they are struggling to overcome the confusion that it has wrought, they are using social media to express their fear and uncertainties and fulfil their needs.
When people are fearful they look for information to mitigate the uncertainty. This can lead to them believing information that is wrong or misleading because it makes them feel better, or because the information lets them blame others for what is happening. Some speculations and conspiracy theories become prominent. I repeat, the best information is that one accesses reliable sites and gets information through them.
Overall, the immediate solution should be that media platforms remove misleading content and prevent false information from spreading over their platforms. This is an important responsibility that should not be ignored by these platforms. In the future, people need to be made aware of these misleading information sources, learn to verify their sources and get their news from authorised and credible portals.