COVID-19: Social Media Conspiracy
Following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Governments and medical officials are scrambling to provide the public with accurate and timely information about the pandemic virus, but those efforts are being undermined by the spread of misinformation and fake cures on social media platforms.
WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook (), is coming under renewed scrutiny over how it handles misinformation as the coronavirus pandemic rampages across the globe, infecting more than 200,000 people and killing over 8,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
“I am urging everyone to please stop sharing unverified info on WhatsApp groups,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Monday on Twitter. “These messages are scaring and confusing people and causing real damage. Please get your info from official and trusted sources.”
Because WhatsApp messages are encrypted in a way that allows them to be seen only by the sender and recipient, public health officials and watchdog groups are struggling to track the spread of coronavirus misinformation. WhatsApp itself does not monitor the flow of messages on the platform.
WhatsApp says it has taken steps to curb misinformation, it is donating to fact checking groups and users can forward messages to special accounts that can verify information.