- A substantive portion of messages that fail to give accurate details concerning the coronavirus have been traced to WhatsApp
- Some world leaders have added their voices to those of medical officials to raise concerns about the increasing spate of fake news
- WhatsApp has meanwhile indicated that measures are being implemented to deal with the challenge
The outbreak of the coronavirus has led to the circulation of misinformation on various social media platforms, raising concerns about the sources of news.
As the coronavirus continues to affect hundreds of thousands of people around the world, there have been calls for the circulation of authentic information on platforms such as the Facebook-owned WhatsApp.
Governments, as well as medical officials, are going the extra mile to provide real-time information on the nature and spread of the virus.
A CNN report, however, shows that they are faced with the challenge of fake news circulating on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp has been subjected to intense scrutiny following the spread of the virus as alternative remedies that have not been prescribed by medical officials are being shared on it.
Several of such messages, Briefly.co.za has learned, mix sound advice with misinformation.
One of them reportedly says “drinking warm water every 15 minutes will neutralize the coronavirus.”
Ireland’s Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, took to Twitter to plead for a ceasefire as "these messages are scaring and confusing people and causing real damage. Please get your info from official, trusted sources. I am urging everyone to please stop sharing unverified info on WhatsApp groups."
According to European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová, "It is clear ... that a lot of false information continues to appear in the public sphere. In particular, we need to understand better the risks related to communication on end-to-end encryption services."
WhatsApp has, meanwhile, given the assurance that it is taking steps to curb misinformation.
One of the measures, it revealed, was that everyone can forward such messages to special accounts to verify the information.
In other news, Facebook has admitted that its campaign to rid its platform of fake news related to the coronavirus led to the blocking of legitimate links.
According to Facebook’s Guy Rosen, the act was a result of a bug in the anti-spam system and is not in any way related to the company’s content moderator workforce.
He added that measures are currently underway to fix the errors and return all legitimate posts that were affected.
The assurance comes after Facebook’s platform suffered from the effects of a bug in its News Feed spam filter.
Enjoyed reading our story? Download BRIEFLY’s news app on Google Play now and stay up-to-date with major South African news!