CASE STUDY
Fake-news during COVID-19 outbreak
 Contents:

For instance, in Iran, more than 700 people died of alcoholic intoxication incorrectly believing that high quantity of methanol in the blood could guard the organism from the virus. In a notorious severe case of misinformation, public outrage coming from the scientific community  condemned the words of the US president, randomly suggesting to inject bleach as treatment against COVID-19.

The same Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security – one of the most reliable source of data related to COVID-19 global epidemic, as well as one of the leading scientific centers in the fight of COVID-19 – made a public announcement warning about totally inexact reports and recommendations published on its behalf, but with no connections with its staff.

The same Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security – one of the most reliable source of data related to COVID-19 global epidemic, as well as one of the leading scientific centers in the fight of COVID-19 – made a public announcement warning about totally inexact reports and recommendations published on its behalf, but with no connections with its staff.

Twitter has its great share of fault too. According to Bot Sentinel, the world largest data set of BOTs activities online, only on March 26, in the timespan of 24h, BOT have been accountable for 1,627 misleading virus-related tweets. For instance, take a look at the following thread*: *Source: ScienceAlert.com

The statement that you see above has been published by official public healthcare authorities. Soon after, here is what happens:

Sara and Sharon’s comments are quite troubling for a simple reason: they mine the legitimateness and reliability of experts who devoted their life to safeguard citizens’ health and well-being.

What is even more creepier is that none of Sara, Sharon and Sara’s mom actually exist: what you just saw perfectly depicts a typical BOT interference, aimed to generate in the unsuspecting reader a sense of loss and confusion.

How can we be so sure that Sara and Sharon are just digital fictions? After a bit of training, BOTs are very easy to spot:

      • No followers
      • No profile pic (or stolen profile pic)
      • Recent on the platform
      • Randomly generated handles
      • One-themed social presence: conspiracy and alarmism

Very rare activity outside commenting others’ posts 

At some point, the situation was so severe that Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube decide to commit themselves to a joint action against the spreading of COVID-19 misinformation.

On the other front, these platforms will guarantee for their users only the most reliable and scientifically-accurate information, leading the provision of updated and in-real-time data.

The UNESCO took  the “social pandemic” effect very seriously:

“UNESCO is also working to help people become more critical of what is being presented to them online and elsewhere, as fact, so that they are less likely to believe, and spread, falsehoods. The agency is using the hashtags #ThinkBeforeSharing, #ThinkBeforeClicking, and #ShareKnowledge, and promoting the view that the rights to freedom of expression and access to information are the best remedies to the dangers of disinformation”. Source: During this coronavirus pandemic, ‘fake news’ is putting lives at risk,

Same has been done by the World Health Organisation. You might notice that, Google engine will always direct you to the official WHO’s website for any COVID-19 related search. This happened only recently, when Google and WHO’s executive sat down together to discuss about effective solutions to contain the “social pandemic” and assure for Web users the safest digital environment. The Mythbusters section of the WHO’s Website lists 28 common COVID-19 misinformation. Each one of them is scientifically fact-checked and “busted”: if you have any concern about what you saw around the internet, please consider to visit the website and share the content with your acquaintances.


 Keywords

Fake News Posing Lives at Threats


 Objectives/goals:

During COVID-19 worldwide epidemic, virus-related fake news spread as fast as the pandemic itself. COVID-19 jokes are incredibly dangerous because, as some have reported,  “[…] include what seems like it comes from valid advice from medical professionals but turns out to be erroneous and in some cases dangerously bad”.


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