Coronavirus: Fake news runs amok

Fake news on the coronavirus is rampant on social media in spite of efforts of the industry to block its flow. The nonsense ranges from the advice to use a hair blower to punch hot air into your sinuses to drinking lots of water and gargling with warm water and salt or vinegar. These treatments were supposed the kill the virus. (New York Post, March 21, 2020, by Sara Dorn)

Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have spent millions to fight sophisticated fake news campaigns but have little success to combating rumors and lies spread by ordinary social media users. (Politico, March 12, 2020, by Mark Scott)

The National Security Council had to debunk a false story that the president was going to announce a national quarantine. That type of story could provoke panic and hoarding that could upset supply chains. Once the news is texted from one person to another, it is difficult to discredit it before it causes damage. (The Washington Post, March 16, 2020, by Craig Timberg, Ellen Nakashima and Tony Romm)

With social media content moderators confined to their homes, it is harder for tech companies to maintain vigilance especially when users confined to their homes feel the need to broadcast information to their contacts. (Wired, March 18, 2020, by Lousie Matsakis and Paris Martineau)

For related FAC coverage, click here.

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