Fake Covid-19 ‘gyaan’ goes viral

Bengaluru: Misinformation onhas exploded on the internet over the last three days. Social media platforms,andare changing algorithms, removing content and reducing discoverability of such posts.

has become a hotspot of such forwards. “There has been a surge in fake news around(Covid-19) in the last few days since the number of cases in India increased.

It is spreading rampantly on WhatsApp. The misinformation of Coronavirus is at least 2-3 times more than previous waves of misinformation around health,” said Shachi Sutaria, Fact Checker-Health and Science at Boomlive.in.

Misinformation includes home remedies, conspiracy theories, false government advisories, and misleading narratives around China, Sutaria added.

“Misinformation is on all platforms, but WhatsApp has maximum reach in India so most of it is on WhatsApp. Videos have become the biggest source of such information and they go viral easily because they sound good,” said Pratik Sinha, the editor of Alt News, a fact-checking outlet.

WhatsApp said it was committed to partnering with governments, technology companies and civil society to respond to the “immense challenge” presented by the virus. The encrypted messaging service, which cannot read the message shared on the platform, did not share details on these possible engagements.

Facebook, however, is taking proactive steps to remove misinformation. “We’re removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organisations. We’re also blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the situation — for example, claiming that their product can cure the disease,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday.

YouTube said it was raising authoritative content, reducing the spread of harmful misinformation and showing information panels, using WHO data, to help combat misinformation about the disease.

It has policies that prohibit videos promoting medically unsubstantiated methods to prevent the spread of the virus, in place of medical treatment, it said. ShareChat said it was working with thirdparty fact checkers across 13 languages on the platform to aggressively fact check content around the virus, and content that is marked as verifiably untrue has a reduced discoverability on the platform.