With the outbreak of coronavirus in China, misinformation about the diseases has also taken over the internet. Recently, a British man claimed to have cured the deadly virus, which has reportedly killed 900 people in China, with hot whiskey and honey. The report of whiskey being a remedy hasn’t been tested by any medical research group.
To tackle any such misinformation regarding coronavirus, global social media and tech giants such as Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube have decided to regulate online content. For this, the companies will remove questionable content from its platform and will also set a team of fact-checkers to specifically keep track of the information that is being circulated.
Twitter, for instance, has launched a search prompt for India in collaboration with the ministry of health and family welfare and the World Health Organisation (WHO). This means that whenever a user searches for coronavirus or any other related term, Twitter will flash links to WHO’s website.
Google, Facebook and YouTube will also be following the same process. The step will ensure that users are getting their information from more reliable sources.
Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers have already started removing content with claims that have been debunked by WHO and local health authorities.
“We’re focusing on claims that are designed to discourage treatment or taking appropriate precautions. This includes claims related to false cures or prevention methods — like drinking bleach cures the coronavirus — or claims that create confusion about health resources that are available,” Facebook said in a blog post, published on January 30, 2020.
“We will also block or restrict hashtags used to spread misinformation on Instagram, and are conducting proactive sweeps to find and remove as much of this content as we can,” the company added.
Chinese short video app TikTok has also started asking its users to verify facts about coronavirus with trusted sources, by flashing warnings in eight Indian languages. Moreover, the platform is also asking its users to report any content that violates TikTik’s community guidelines.
The Spread Of Coronavirus In India
Coronavirus has affected over 40,171 people in China alone. Moreover, at least 25 other countries have confirmed cases of coronavirus as well. India too has registered three positive cases of coronavirus as well, all of which are from Kerala.
As per researchers from Humboldt University and Robert Koch Institute in Germany, India stands at the 17th position in an index that identifies the countries that have the risk of importing coronavirus cases. The index has been prepared on a mathematical model.
The report also adds that Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi has the highest risk, followed by other airports in Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi.
Meanwhile, social media and Twitter users have been coming up with their own recommendations to tackle coronavirus. While some suggest ayurvedic treatments, others suggest going to religious leaders to wash away their sins. Misinformation such as these posts will still need to be addressed by social media platforms.
Lady explains remedy for Coronavirus pic.twitter.com/yQsszjKGja
— कॉंचन द्विवेदी (@kanchandwivedi3) February 8, 2020
As per a report in ET, the Indian government has kept 5,123 people under home surveillance as a precautionary measure for coronavirus. Moreover, it has tested out 741 people so far, out of which 738 have been tested negative.
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