The year of 2020 has taken a drastic turn for the worse since the appearance of COVID-19, and the media played a huge role relaying informations about the virus in the beginning of the pandemic, even false informations.
« The COVID-19 pandemic has come to dominate the media, both domestically and abroad. Alongside increased attention on the pandemic, has come the viral spread of COVID-19 fake news online. »
Says Dr. Greg Nyilasy, who is also a teacher at the University of Melbourne, in this article published on April 10th 2020 in Inside Business.
The article is about misinformation and fake news that was spread by the media and on the internet, in this new age of COVID-19. The new virus was, and still is a hot topic for all the media around the world. And during those times, a lot of fake news about the virus were published by the media, or by the population. Some were saying that it was a bioweapon created by the Chinese or the US government or that the virus could be cured using drugs etc.
Basically, Dr. Greg Nyilasy is demonstrating the impact of misinformation about the virus on the population, the society.
By doing that, he uses a lot sources like the “ESOC of Princeton University” or the “Yale University”, cnet, and some of them are famous, like “The New York Times” or the “ABC News”.
He states that new technologies, that usually are useful, can affect the
consumers, when they’re used in a bad way, which is the case with fake news on social medias for example. But some fake news is spread intentionally by people to scare others, or to redirect the blame on a certain group of people. The article says that it’s called disinformation.
Misinformation, on the other hand, is spread by the people who have a wrong understanding of the situation, of the virus. They usually hear the information from another person, or on social media, or it could be just their opinion about the situation and the virus.
Dr. Greg Nyilasy says that we need clear instructions from an organization that is supposed to be trustworthy, like the government itself. They do play a key role, they have to be informative and guide the population so that fake news have less impact.
Why the population can be easily influenced by fake news in a time of crisis ? It’s probably because people tend to be scared easily when something is unknown, when something that has never happened to them before, is suddenly happening, and the fact that they don’t understand exactly how it works can make it worse.
So they need explanations, they need to know if they’re safe, what they have to do, how to deal with it, and how it happened in the first place.
They need information, and when they’re scared, they tend to believe fake information more easily, on social medias like Twitter or Whatsapp, and it’s understandable, we can’t blame them for being scared. But we have to limit the false news, and give these people the right information, so they can be reassured, so they can start doing the right things.
But we also have to be more careful of what we are seeing, reading, and we need to think objectively before making any decisions, especially in times like this.
Sources : https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/fake-news-in-the-age-of-covid-19