Fake news has repeatedly undermined efforts to protect Americans from the coronavirus pandemic. Now a new study indicates that where people get their news influences whether they believe misinformation. Those who get their news from social media seem more likely to believe falsehoods about COVID-19.
As a doctor, I get my medical information from validated scientific sources. But I can always count on my social media feed to keep me informed on the latest fake health secrets and dangers that “your doctor doesn’t know about.” How else would I find out? Legitimate medical sources don’t cover this misinformation.
Source: Markus Winkler/Unsplash
This week alone I learned of ridiculous ideas like this: eating vegetables is actually destroying my gut. Also, if I just start consuming a rare fruit all the weight I gained from stress eating during the pandemic is going to melt off. But these silly claims were nothing compared to how hard I laughed over the recent trend promoted by Instagram influencers: perineal sunning.
Here’s how it works: you get naked, go outside on a sunny day, contort your body, and spread your butt cheeks so you can aim your anus directly at the sun. That’s right!
“But why?” you might ask. According to the social media influencers, just a minute of direct anal sunlight will give you the health benefits of a full day in the sun. And that means vitamin D!
Never mind that your perianal area is low in protective skin pigment and will develop sunburn quickly. Or that tanning increases your risk of melanoma. It’s an Insta trend! And it was so influential, Cosmopolitan actually ran an article to convince readers not to do it.
Social Media is powerful
That’s the power of social media. It can introduce people to practices that sound like Saturday Night Live skits… and people actually do it. We must understand the power social media holds over how we perceive information. Otherwise, we cannot grasp why people underestimate the danger of the coronavirus infection that has killed more than 150,000 Americans so far.
But it may have less to do with social media itself, and more to do with whether we see social media as a news source.
According to the new study published in The Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review, people who get their news mainly from social media are more likely to believe falsehoods about coronavirus. They are also less likely to practice social distancing or to think COVID-19 is a threat. Conversely, those who get their news from more traditional news media are more likely to follow public health recommendations.
“There is growing evidence that misinformation circulating on social media poses public health risks,” says co-author Taylor Owen, an Associate Professor at McGill University, in a press release. According to their analysis of millions of tweets and thousands of news articles, false or inaccurate information about coronavirus is far more likely to be circulated on social media than in the traditional news media.
“Platforms like Twitter and Facebook are increasingly becoming the primary sources of news and misinformation for Canadians and people around the world. In the context of a crisis like COVID-19, however, there is good reason to be concerned about the role that the consumption of social media is playing in boosting misperceptions,” says co-author Aengus Bridgman, a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at McGill University in Canada.
Misinformation about masks is terrifying mothers
Social media has always been a blessing and a curse for mothers. Moms connect and support each other, often in social media groups. And we also terrify each other with the latest thing to worry about for our kids. Statements on social media can drive parenting anxiety like nothing else.
Right now parents in many areas of America are contemplating their children’s return to school during the coronavirus pandemic. Wearing masks and social distancing in class are essential parts of plans to do this safely. So far so good.
Enter social media. My Facebook messages have been flooded with mothers asking me whether it’s true that masks cause lung damage. This falsehood is all over social media and moms are worried about their children. And that’s not funny, because it’s scaring people about one of our most powerful tools against coronavirus.
To be clear: masks are awesome! They are our first line of defense against COVID-19. They protect us and others. And masks do not impair our breathing! Doctors have been using social media to post pictures of their workouts in masks and their perfect oxygen readings.
But scary misinformation spreads much faster on social media than good news. You might say misinformation is viral.
An earlier version of this article was published on Forbes.com.
Minister sees strengths in BBC critics eyed for top UK media jobs – TheChronicleHerald.ca
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s culture minister said on Sunday that two prominent critics of the BBC who have reportedly been offered important roles in the British media had “strengths”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked Charles Moore, a former editor of the Daily Telegraph, to become the chairman of the BBC and wants Paul Dacre, a former editor of the Daily Mail, to be chairman of media regulator Ofcom, according to The Sunday Times.
Culture minister Oliver Dowden said the process for the appointment of both roles would be launched soon and that the government was seeking “strong, credible” people and a chair of the BBC who could hold it to account.
“There are strengths to both Charles Moore and to Paul Dacre,” he told Sky News.
(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Reporting by Andrew Heavens)
Sania Mirza on social media toxicity: Everybody has an opinion about everything and feels the urge to… – Hindustan Times
Like many others in the public domain, Sania Mirza too feels social media toxicity has reached an unusual high. The tennis ace feels that people are expressing their anger and frustration in the space. And no matter how much ones tries to avoid this negative environment, it does get on people, something Mirza herself have experienced.
“We’re living in difficult times and I honestly think that a lot of people are frustrated. And somehow that is coming out on social media and you can see how much it has erupted. There’s a lot more hate in the last few months on social media than it was before. Everybody has an opinion about everything and they somehow think that they need to put it out on social media every single time, which should not be the case in my opinion,” she says.
With no intention of passing any judgment, Mirza adds that every individual has their own way of dealing with things. Though it’s important to have a dignified stand when it comes to expression, according to her, most of these people do not realise that expressing opinions, discussions are fine but passing judgment and all the threats and abuses aren’t.
“The last few months, things haven’t been easy and it has affected us real hard. People are going through a lot and may be, unknowingly, have become hateful towards others. And everyone is forming an opinion about almost everything, right or wrong,” she adds.
Highlighting the “great ups” of social media, Mirza agrees that there are lot of cons too that have come out in the fore more now, turning the otherwise valuable space “pretty toxic”. And she has her way of dealing with it.
“I do take a break from social media every now and then and don’t really indulge in it every single day. To be honest, I never read the ‘mentions’ because I think that mental sanity is important than anything else. I laugh at it most of the time but there are days when it does get to you, so I kind of cut off from it. You’ve to take social media with a pinch of salt. Good or bad, you can’t take it too seriously,” she explains.
Spending time with family is what keeps Mirza’s heart and mind off this negativity. The 33-year-old, had earlier spoken about how difficult it is for her and son Izhaan to stay away from husband and cricketer Shoaib Malik for over six months due to the pandemic. Finally, along with her son, sister Anam Mirza and brother-in-law Mohammad Asaduddin, she flew down to Dubai recently.
“It was obviously very tough and it wasn’t really something that was in our control. We had to deal with the circumstances… It was great to see Shoaib after so long, not just for myself but also for Izhaan. I think Izhaan is very excited to spend time with his dad. I thought he would take a little time but actually he went to him straight away. Surprisingly, he remembered him and all the little things he used to do with him. I guess that’s what a father and a son relationship is all about,” she says adding, she will be coming back to India soon.
London social media campaign celebrates newcomers working in the health sector – Global News
Saskatchewan reported 19 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday as the province hit a new single-day testing record.
Of the new cases, 15 are in the Saskatoon area, with 13 of them being linked to known cases or events, says the Ministry of Health.
Two new cases have been reported in the central east and Regina zones.
As of Saturday, Saskatchewan has a total of 1,863 reported cases. Two cases previously reported have been removed as they live outside of Saskatchewan, say officials.
There are 134 active cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan, with a total of 1,705 people who have recovered from the virus.
Here is a breakdown of where Saskatchewan’s active cases are:
- Saskatoon: 83
- Regina: 19
- Central West: 8
- Central East: 5
- South East: 5
- South Central: 4
- North Central: 3
- South West: 3
- North West: 1
- Far North East: 1
- Far North West: 1
- North East: 1
There are eight people in hospital, all who are receiving inpatient care.
Saskatoon chamber of commerce asks SHA for mask-wearing ad blitz
Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 24 people.
Here is a breakdown of total Saskatchewan cases by age:
- 318 people are 19 and under
- 603 people are 20 to 39
- 577 are 40 to 59
- 303 people are 60 to 79
- 62 people are 80 and over
Women make up 51 per cent of the cases, men make up 49 per cent.
Officials said 931 cases are linked to community contact or mass gatherings, 279 are travel-related, 534 have no known exposure and 119 are under investigation by public health.
There have been 69 cases involving health-care workers.
Saskatchewan has completed 183,216 COVID-19 tests to date, up 2,984 from Friday, making it the highest daily number of tests performed to date, according to data provided by the Ministry of Health.
The previous record was set on Sept. 18, when 2,984 tests were performed.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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