The spread of fake news and misleading information about COVID-19 is faster than the virus itself. Misinformation regarding COVID-19 has flourished over various online platforms earning a name, “infodemics.” Infodemics may contain harmful information to the public that can cause social disorder, change in behavior, and might cause division.
Fake news spreads like wildfire through the sharing of the information by trusted people, friends, and family, including those who are healthcare professionals. Different social media platforms are in use to spread false information. However, the most notorious one is WhatsApp. It has thus led to WhatsApp, to impose a new limit on forwarding messages.
New App Restriction Imposed by Whatsapp
WhatsApp, starting Tuesday, will highlight the app feature to fight the spreading of “fake news.” A new limit aims to hinder messages that are on the frequent forward radar. It will thus allow the user to forward the message to one chat head at a time. This action helps to lessen the virality of the message. Because in recent weeks, WhatsApp found a significant rise in the spreading of fake news among users who are forwarding misleading information.
Sharing a message over five times will give it a tag that says, “frequently-forwarded messages.” The latest app restriction will then mark these messages with two arrows on top. This place limits how people can send messages more so if they’re forwarding a message that is already doing the rounds and has over five shares.
WhatsApp is continuously observing and studying their demographics behavior with regards to forwarding false news. They aim to lessen the spreading of fake news or misinformation about the pandemic COVID-19 by preserving the app to be a platform for personal conversation only.
Another App Feature to Fight the Spread of Fake News
For any suspicious forwarded message, there will be a displayed magnifying glass icon. This feature will give the user the option to see the sources of information about the forwarding of fake news. This will also allow the user to double-check the information before spreading it to their network. Reduce the spread of unreliable information. WhatsApp is continuously testing the newly imposed restriction to stop the dissemination of false stories or information related to the pandemic COVID-19.
How to Check Fake News about the Virus
WhatsApp is aware that not all frequently-forwarded messages are harmful, and some are sharing meaningful and helpful information. The restriction deals to curb the rumors and hoaxes about the COVID-19. Now, how can you spot fake news about the virus?
Check the Original Source
Always look for the reference of the original information. You should be careful to know which sources provide reliable information. It should complement with the newspaper or aired news via television and online. Seek for the trusted news sources only. And check on the official website as necessary.
The news broke to the public in December 2019. So you would know that any information which arises before that date is questionable. Be sure to check the date of the forwarded information. Most online articles have a date on it. Another tip is to verify the authenticity of the organization’s logo.
Be Vigilant with Forwarded Messages
If the received messages urge you to forward and spread it, it is highly probable that it contains false information. Also, know that bad English will likely raise your suspicions about misinformation.
A written message that contains all capital letters and exclamation points also lead to some questioning. You can also use fact-checking websites to identify fake news stories.
Put “Infodemics” to an End
We have heard a lot of repercussions and effects of spreading fake news about the virus. This harms people globally as it ignites panic and chaos among the people. People try false information about self-medication. Some fear the limited source of alcohol or other essential products in the groceries. This also puts the public mental and emotional health in jeopardy.
Finding reliable information during this pandemic might be confusing and challenging. If you want to get updates with regards to COVID-19, the best source is the information is your local government health websites. Also, check updates about virus cases around the world by visiting the World Health Organization website.