2020 has been quite different from all the other years and so has everything else been. Fake news also thrived through the period; misleading statements have been all over the internet about Coronavirus that got almost everyone confused.
Last week, there were several photos circulating on Facebook about Mombasa running out of burial space within cemeteries due to COVID-19 deaths is fake.
The fake news conveyer, Tycoonnews Kenya further adds that statistics show that Kenyans are dying every hour from COVID-19 which is also baseless.
However, this photo can be traced back and its Origin is the Hart Island in the New York City in the US that has been used over 10 decades and not in the COVID-19 pandemic times.
From the source, the photo was taken by Photographer Lucas Jackson and published in April 2020 with the headline ” Workers bury the dead in a mass grave on New York City’s Hart Island amid coronavirus outbreak and, not November as the fake posts claim.
This and other similar photos have caused fear among citizens and can adversely impact the effectiveness of containment strategies put in place.
Besides this, there have been many conspiracy theories that covid-19 isn’t a new disease and more that continue to bring about conceptual confusions
A recent study about the COVDI-19 infodemic as published by DW Says, the spread of rumours and conspiracy theories says, misinformation about the coronavirus has let to at least 800 deaths.
A group of international scientists from various countries also looked into data that was compiled since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic between December 2019 and April 2020 noted that roughly 800 people died from drinking highly-concentrated alcohol in the hope of disinfecting their bodies, while 5,900 citizens were hospitalized after consuming methanol, with 60 people going blind as a result of fake news.
As a result, health care workers and the COVID-19 Victims and survivors have repeatedly been stigmatized and rejected by other people of the community. Fakeness continues to be highly spread online especially on Facebook and Twitter.
All-together, misleading information around COVID-19 has also affected people’s response to the virus. Most people have been fed wrong beliefs for instance it only affects old people or those with existing conditions.
How can we combat fake news through the COVID-19 pandemic?
There are also organizations that are committed to combating fake news. The UN has been on the forefront to dispel rumours, fake news and misleading messages on false claims that the use of disinfectants combats coronavirus.
– There are a number of platforms in Kenya that you can use to verify fake news that you can adopt for your daily blogging. They include Africa Check, PesaCheck and more.
– Avoid websites with suspicious URLs or designs that look hastily put together. Check to make sure the site has a secure connection before clicking on the link
– Also, consider using a comprehensive security suite to ensure your devices and online accounts are protected at all costs.
– Verify your images before sharing them anywhere. TinEye is an example of an image search and recognition company that you can use to search the originality of your images. Google also has an option for Reverse Image search that can help you verify your images.
While sharing information online, be cautious about its effects on others, how will they interpret it or how will it affect their daily lives.