How to avoid fake news about the Coronavirus

Date:16 March 2020 Author: Kyro Mitchell Tags:,

We live in a world where getting the latest news updates is as easy as taking a quick glance down at your smartphone. However, a downfall to having such quick access to the news is that false stories can quickly spread.

Through the vast number of social media platforms, a huge wave of misinformation is spreading on the coronavirus, from magical home remedies that promise to cure your every ailment, to fake medical advice asking people to avoid foods such as ice cream and chicken, and sharing conspiracy theories.

Take these examples for instance, on the surface they all appear to be from a trusted source and give you no reason to think otherwise. However, doing just 5 minutes of research would have shown that the information in these letters is indeed false and holds no weight.

Image credit: Aljazeera


Image credit: Aljazeera


Pause before sharing

It is very easy to get caught up in the adrenaline rush that hits when you see exciting or scary news. You immediately want to share the information and don’t stop to verify. Take a moment to check to see if the content is legitimate before forwarding to everyone.

Check social media 

This isn’t the most official outlet but it is fast. Just log onto your preferred social media site, with Twitter being the most helpful usually, and search to see if anyone has said anything about the same message you’ve just seen.

It is likely that if it is fake one of the organisations mentioned or an official government source would have alerted their social media audience to the fraud.

Check official sources

The best place to go if you’re looking for factual information regarding coronavirus globally is to visit the World Health Organization’s official website and social media sites.

As for information regarding the outbreak in South Africa, The Department of Health has set up a dedicated 24-hour hotline number that can be reached at 0800 029 999.

A WhatsApp bot has also been set up by the South African government to help keep the general public informed on any breaking news regarding coronavirus. Anyone can join by simply texting the word “Hi” to 0600 123 456. They will then receive pre-programmed responses with key information.

In addition to the WhatsApp group and hotline, The Department of Health has set up a website that functions as a resource portal for citizens who have questions about the outbreak,

Here you’ll be able to find relevant preventive tips on how to stop contracting the virus, along with accurate statistics on the number of COVID-19 tests completed, positive cases identified, negative cases identified, and of course, deaths, which is currently 0.

Image: Pixabay

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