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Coronavirus Causing Panic on Social Media: How to Steer Clear of Fake News

By Mar 31, 2020 May 8th, 2020 No Comments

fake newsIt seems as though the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) is all that anybody can speak about these days. This is obvious any time you scroll through your social media newsfeed. The global pandemic is a very serious situation and has got many people panicking about what’s to come, particularly in South Africa where our local healthcare system has already been struggling to keep up, long before Coronavirus made its dreaded appearance.

The reality is that the hysteria around the spread of the virus has led to the spread of something just as dangerous: fake news. Fake news only works to fan the flames of public panic and aside from the lockdown imposed from 27 March 2020, is the reason behind the panic buying that has been taking place at local supermarkets. The question is, how can you steer clear of fake news and hold onto your sense of calm and perseverance to fight back against this relentless virus? Here are some tips.

Only believe the facts you read from reliable sources

If you simply can’t avoid browsing your social media platforms and google, some of the best sources from which to get your Coronavirus-related news include the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) and the WHO (World Health Organisation. Locally, you can trust the Department of Health (follow the Department on twitter @HealthZA), the sacoronavirus.co.za web page which is consistently updated with relevant press releases and notices, and the official Whatsapp National Department of Health Covid-19 support service. To access the latter, simply send ‘HI’ to 0600 123456 via Whatsapp.

Know what to watch out for

There are often obvious signs that a specific piece of ‘information’ is fake news. If the piece in question is obviously upsetting or geared towards triggering anxiety, there’s a good chance it’s fake. Another sure-fire signal that the ‘news’ is untrustworthy is the inclusion of spelling mistakes and the article boasting an unusual number of likes or shares.

Don’t share any ‘news’ unless you’re sure it’s legit

Don’t contribute further to the state of panic by spreading sensationalised or fake news on social media. Always double-check that the relevant sources are reputable before hitting that ‘share’ button or speaking to friends and family about the information you read.

It’s so important to hold onto our sense of calm and rationality as we power through these uncertain times. Don’t let fake news unsettle you and, most importantly, don’t be someone who accidentally contributes to the problem!

Stay well and focused on protecting yourself and others.

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