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Home / Tips and Tricks / Coronavirus Facts Check: Recognizing False Reports on Mysterious Disease

Coronavirus Facts Check: Recognizing False Reports on Mysterious Disease



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The panic of the corona virus has produced a wave of false reports and messages on social media.


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It is estimated that at least 8,000 Chinese citizens have been infected with the corona virus and more than 100 people have died. While health officials and authorities try to control the virus and prevent the spread of the deadly disease, concerns about more outbreaks continue to increase.

Increasing concern over has sent the deadly coronavirus to many concerned individuals on the internet, hoping to find more information about the disease and how they can protect themselves against infections. However, some of the information they find is falsely reported, with many messages, photos, and other media being distributed (largely on social media) that contain misleading or false information.

The false reports so far have made claims about a vaccine, the source of the virus, and patents placed on the disease. People even generate conspiracy theories to cash in the panic. Even worse, some people spread information that is just racist propaganda, disguised as health warnings.

The World Health Organization declared the virus on Thursday as an international public health emergency but the internet storm and the general panic in many of the reports remain unnecessarily alarming and overwhelming. It is important to understand the facts about the coronavirus and to find out which information is inaccurate so that it can be reported and not spread further.

Fact checkers from 30 countries are currently working on debunk and prevent the spread of further false information on media platforms. Social media platforms such as Facebook also take measures to prevent the spread of false information. Facebook has hired three third-party fact-checking organizations to check content and activate warning labels that users see when they view fake information.

"Several of our external partners for checking facts around the world have rated content as false, so we are drastically reducing distribution and people who see, try to share or already have this content are being warned that it is false , "said a Facebook spokesperson. "This situation is evolving rapidly and we will continue our reach to global and regional health organizations to provide support and assistance."

A reporter at Bloomberg media pointed out that that if you search for "coronavirus" on Twitter, the social media site will refer you to the website of the American Centers for Disease Results and Prevention for information about the disease .

Twitter published on Wednesday a blog post stopping the intention to stop the spread of misleading information and pointing people to credible sources . "We've seen more than 15 million tweets on the subject in the last four weeks and that trend seems to be continuing," wrote Twitter staff in the statement.

Below are some trending reports that have appeared online and that have been proven to be false.

Hal Turner Radioshow wrongly reports how many people have been infected and died of coronavirus

Lead checks from external parties, one of the external fact checkers hired by Facebook, invalidated a report with 2.8 million people being infected and 112,000 are dead. What we do know is that the National Health Commission of China has reported that 6,000 civilians have been infected and more than 130 people have died.

Daily Mail video of Chinese woman eating meat soup gives misleading information about the origin of the corona virus

A video and article distributed from the Daily Mail incorrectly indicates that the corona virus may be linked to contaminated meat soup . Health officials are investigating a specific meat and seafood market in Wuhan (which sells bats and snakes) that could be a common link between infected people, although the first confirmed case could not be linked to this market. Scientists have not confirmed that the disease certainly comes from a specific animal, and certainly not from the infected soup shown in the viral post.

Fake, racist health warning issued in Australia telling people to avoid Chinese-populated areas

A fake report issued in Australia warned people to stay away from areas with many Chinese residents. The report circulated from what appeared to be the Queensland Department of Health and was confirmed as false by the state government. A similar report, apparently from the "Bureau of Diseasology", warned people to stay away from certain Australian train stations and areas that are known to have "traces of Corona disease." The Bureau of Diseasology does not exist.

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Lead Stories detects a hoax shared on social media that claims that a student in Ghana has made a vaccine for coronavirus

We know that there is no vaccine for this virus, and that probably won't be there for possible months or years. Because it is a new virus, there is simply not enough time for scientists to develop one. The New7pm.com site is known to media watch dogs and fact-checking groups such as Lead Stories to regularly spread false news and information.

Other extreme conspiracy theories are generated such as the false claim that Bill Gates is involved in the outbreak and the seriously dangerous suggestion that people should drink bleach to avoid it. There are also claims that a virological laboratory in Wuhan is responsible for the outbreak based on a logo similar to the one used in the zombie video game franchise Resident Evil.

How to find legitimate information versus forged reports

If you see reports that look extreme, appear suspicious, or come from an unknown source, it is important to take the time to evaluate the information before sharing it or buy about it. You must also report the information to the correct person (such as the platform on which you found the message).

Facebook has a source page on how to find fake news reports or messages on the internet. Some of the tips include carefully evaluating headlines that look extreme or have exclamation points, checking for tampered dates or images that look modified, and trying to cross-verify the news with various other important news channels. This is how you report a message on Facebook.

The News Literacy Project is another useful resource, just like this guide from Stony Brook University. If you come across news or messages that you suspect are fake, it's important to report them and not share them.

Another fantastic source for checking facts is Snopes.com, which has provided routine updates on some of the more imaginative claims that have so far come from the Internet. Worth considering if a claim seems too good to be true.

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The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care professional for any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.


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