Over the course of a few months, the novel coronavirus broke out of China to become a pandemic stretched across the globe. Simultaneously, a deluge of misinformation and fake news runs rampant across social media sourced from disreputable propagators.
Rafael Anchia, a Democrat serving the Texas House of Representatives, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he receives misinformation from friends and family constantly. “Part of what I spend my day doing is just dispelling that,” he said.
The abundance of unscientific cures and conspiracy theories with no factual basis prompted several organization to hold Q&A sessions to dispel fake news. For example, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston teamed with FactCheck.org to debunk some of the circulating misinformation.
They largely correct methods of sanitation and avoidance. One such factoid they provide is that water temperature while washing hands doesn’t matter. The real value in hand washing comes from the duration and the scrubbing action.
Fake News Dispelled By Official Info Sources
One tool available to Texans is the 24-hour coronavirus hotline, 817-248-6299. Vinny Taneja, Public Health Director in Tarrant County, said the hotline received over 8,300 calls. Though, most seek information about available testing.
The issue arises from the varied and vast field of fake news sources. While organizations like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization post factual information, so many more fake news agents utilize the mechanics of social media to spread their misinformation.
Infodemics Observatory, an online resource tracking the spread of misinformation, analyzed 100 million tweets. They found that, during the time period between when China put Wuhan into lockdown on January 22 and March 14, over a quarter million accounts posted 1.7 million unreliable links.
Therefore, various platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter itself have collaborated government health agencies to push accurate information. Still, the contemporary manifestations of fake news prove particularly difficult to uproot amidst distrust and a lack of discernment.
The hotline at 817-248-6299 is available for anyone with questions pertaining to covid-19.