The “fake news” epidemic is more real than ever before.
Typically, the accusation of “fake news” is used to discredit undesirable truths or by supporters when their favourite politicians are caught in an unflattering scenario. However, during COVID-19, fake news is directly facilitating the spread of a lethal virus.
Countless stories have questioned the legitimacy of COVID-19. In some respects, skepticism can be understood considering the novelty of the virus. Yet, from conspiracy theories about 5G cell towers to fake doctors vlogging about biological warfare, it seems everything under the sun has been blamed for causing this pandemic.
These claims are not supported by science. Many people are still vocal in their beliefs that COVID-19 is no worse than the seasonal flu, despite its mortality rate being over 30 times higher.
As the days of quarantine have turned to months, it would have been reasonable to expect less misinformation in the media. Society knows more about COVID-19 than ever before, yet fake news is only getting worse.
When the President of the United States suggested people inject themselves with harmful chemicals such as bleach to kill the virus, it led to poison control centres across America being flooded with calls. Instead of focusing on COVID-19, medical professionals had to spend time convincing people not to inject household disinfectants.
This is not the only time a false claim about COVID-19 incited disaster. Numerous posts circulating social media claimed face masks cause carbon dioxide poisoning. This sort of misinformation has been fuel for the detrimental ‘anti-mask’ agenda.
Beyond politicians, many celebrities have misused their platforms. Former professional baseball player Aubrey Huff posted an anti-mask rant on Twitter that received more than two million views. He claimed “it’s not healthy to be breathing in your own CO2 all the time.”
This widespread lie comes without any scientific evidence and refutes the now-common knowledge that masks are the first line of defense against COVID-19. When those with large social media platforms discourage wearing a mask, they are helping spread this virus. We owe it to the sick and dying not to treat human lives as a political talking point.
As science inches closer to a potential COVID-19 vaccine, conspiracy theories regarding its efficacy and true intentions have already emerged.
There have always been misinformed skeptics of vaccines, although any links between vaccines and causing autism have been routinely disproven. Any government-issued vaccine to prevent COVID-19 will be rigorously tested before distribution. Yet, from a poll of over 1,600 Americans, 28 per cent believed a COVID-19 vaccine would be a ploy to insert microchips.
Vaccines can only work through creating herd immunity. This is only possible if the majority of the population gets vaccinated, which requires widespread acceptance of its merits. Vocal opposition to a vaccine will unfortunately deter enough people to make herd immunity an impossibility within the population.
All the fake news surrounding COVID-19 is only prolonging the pandemic, and the sheer number of outrageous claims about the virus is dangerous to public health. Fortunately, there are steps to ensure lies are not spreading around like the virus itself.
The best way to combat fake news is by reading the actual news. Developing media literacy skills is important to identify accurate and non-partisan news sources. If in doubt, read several articles on the same topic and examine the overlap. While all media is somewhat biased, a few minutes of research is all it takes to identify non-factual reporting.
It’s crucial to investigate bizarre claims. Credible news reporting will include links or citations to the topics in question, particularly COVID-related science. There is often a discrepancy between what actually happened and how it was reported—sometimes it can be worth skimming through a scientific journal to find the actual conclusions from a study.
Finally, we all have a responsibility not to share information without first fact-checking it. Spreading an uneducated rumour to others has dire consequences.
We cannot end COVID-19 without a commitment to the unbiased truth.
China retaliates against news media in latest feud with US – The Battlefords News-Optimist
BEIJING — China has ordered six U.S.-based news media to file detailed information about their operations in China the latest volley in a monthslong battle with the Trump administration.
A foreign ministry statement issued late Monday demanded that the bureaus of ABC, The Los Angeles Times, Minnesota Public Radio, the Bureau of National Affairs, Newsweek and Feature Story News declare information about their staff, finances, operations and real estate in China within seven days.
The announcement came five days after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said six Chinese media would have to register as foreign missions, which requires them to file similar information with the U.S. government.
The six were the third group of Chinese media required to do so this year. Each time, China has responded by forcing a similar number of U.S. media to file about their operations.
The ministry statement said China was compelled to take the step “in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the United States.”
Pompeo, in making his announcement, said the targeted Chinese media are state-owned or controlled, and that the U.S. wants to ensure that “consumers of information can differentiate between news written by a free press and propaganda distributed by the Chinese Communist Party.”
The media is one of several areas of growing tension between the two countries as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China over trade, technology, defence and human rights.
The U.S. ordered the closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston earlier this year, and China responded by shuttering the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu.
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Trump calls U.S. coronavirus case spike a media ‘conspiracy’ – Global News
“Cases are up because we TEST, TEST, TEST. A Fake News Media Conspiracy,” Trump tweeted on Monday.
“Many young people who heal very fast. 99.9 per cent. Corrupt Media conspiracy at all time high.”
He went on to say that after the November election, the “topic will totally change,” adding in a subsequent tweet that “The Fake News Media is riding COVID, COVID, COVID, all the way to the Election. Losers!”
As of the morning of Oct. 26, there have been more than 8,600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., as well as over 225,000 deaths, according to a tally by John Hopkins University.
Just two days earlier, the country shattered its own record, recording more than 84,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day.
It’s far from the first time the claim has been made by Trump, who was infected with the virus just weeks ago.
During his recent interview with 60 Minutes, Trump claimed that coronavirus cases are rising simply “because we’re doing so much testing.”
“If we didn’t do testing, cases would be way down,” he said in the extended footage.
Trump ends ’60 Minutes’ interview after receiving ‘tough questions’
Trump also touted this claim during previous spikes in cases in the U.S.
While the number of daily tests conducted in the U.S. — and other countries seeing jumps — has risen, experts agree there has, in fact, been an increase in the actual spread of the virus.
Increased testing will inevitably find more cases, however, there are other indicators, including hospitalizations and the number of tests coming back positive — both of which have been rising in the U.S. — that indicate that the spread of the virus is up.
Deaths often lag a spike in cases, but those have started to rise again, too.
— with files from Reuters and The Associated Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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