Fake News: Spreading as Fast as the COVID-19 Pandemic

There is no doubt that the world at large is currently in a situation of chaos. As the COVID-19 pandemic hits new peaks, more people are under threat and more are testing positive for the deadly virus. Healthcare workers and testing laboratories around the world are working around the clock and are stressed beyond their limits while the virus doesn’t seem to have a cure in sight as yet. 

In this very demanding and stressful context, people have also taken to the digital space to spread fake news as fast as the virus itself. Sri Lanka has seen its fair share of fake news during other crises too, from the riots in Digana to the Easter Sunday attacks just a year ago. While these are the worst times for fake news, there seems to be very little means to curb it. While social media organizations now have teams of fact checkers working around the clock to prevent this rapid spread of unverified news, placing warning clouds over content that seems suspicious it often happens after the posts have gone viral. By this point, the damage is already done. On a global scale this has become a massive issue with Facebook alone reporting that 40 million fake news posts circulated on their platform in March 2020 alone. 

It then falls into the hands of everyday citizens and journalists alike to be vigilant and doubly careful about what we see online and in turn, what we opt to share. It is also good for both parties to know whom to contact and where to go to ensure that whatever posts are out there are verified and authenticated. Here are some suggestions in that light:

For all verified news, and confirmed fake news, visit these Fact Checking teams working around the clock in Sri Lanka

  • WATCHDOG SRI LANKA

WatchDog Sri Lanka works with a team of trusted and senior journalists, analysts and fact checkers around the country, presenting verified news, fake news, investigations and other information in separate tabs for easy access

https://watchdog.paladinanalytics.com/

Download the app:

Google Play

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.watchdog.watchdog

App Store

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/watchdog-sri-lanka/id1461665131?ls=1

  • FACT CRESCENDO

Fact Crescendo is a part of the IFCN (International Fact Checking Network) and present fact checks on verified stories in English, Sinhala and Tamil

https://srilanka.factcrescendo.com/

Who to contact on all COVID-19 related issues in Sri Lanka:

  • The Ministry of Health

The MoH is the central place for all information on health issues in Sri Lanka and they are keeping an active track of the ground situation.
Visit – http://www.health.gov.lk

  • Health Promotion Bureau 

Sri Lanka’s Health Promotion Bureau takes the daily information on COVID-19 in Sri Lanka and other key countries and has created an active dashboard for a quick glimpse of information. 

Visit: https://hpb.health.gov.lk/covid19-dashboard/

  1. WHO, Sri Lanka

You can actively engage with the World Health Organization’s Sri Lanka office via social media and email with any questions you may have prior to reporting. They have also begun to verify information available online and present it on their website’s homepage

Visit: https://www.who.int/srilanka  

 

Written by: Natalie Soysa

Image credit: Futurism.com

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