COVID-19 has brought humanity together like never before. Everywhere you see people contributing their part in this fight. While most of humanity is united as one in these hard times, there are always unscrupulous elements trying to milk even such grave situations. Be it fake pharmaceutical products, or unfounded claims about the virus, these people always carry out their nefarious designs with no sensitivity towards the gravity of the situation.
In these times, when a common man is trembling with fear of the unknown, misinformation spreads like wildfire. Every social media platform has the potential to become a source of tremendous misinformation. To counter the narrative, social platforms have put in stringent measures to flag such false news. Whatsapp, notorious for the bombardment of misinformation that is available in public groups on the platform, has seemingly added a feature of its own to flag misinformation.
Several users have reported that the social app has added a search icon next to messages that are forwarded. Once you click on the icon, Google runs a search for the content, sent in the message, on the web to verify its credibility. That is not all though, once you run the search, you will also see previously flagged fake news on top of the search bar.
WhatsApp seems to have added a search icon next to Forwarded messages to directly search with the content of the forward on Google – fake messages that have been called out, usually show up on top.
Decent move. pic.twitter.com/u0DFnaj2Bi
— SG (@shrinivassg) March 21, 2020
Other social platforms like Twitter and Facebook have put in more stringent measures given the magnitude of information that is shared on these platforms. Twitter recently announced it will be verifying medical personnel providing info regarding the pandemic so that users can know they are getting vetted information from a verified handle.
The desperation to stay safe is such, people are literally doing anything to ward off the virus. And the same sentiment is exploited by these fringe elements. As if this was not enough, we have had institutionalized dissemination of misinformation as well. Recently, India’s Ministry of Ayush (Ayurveda) had claimed COVID-19 to be treatable by homeopathy. The bizarre information was shared on their official social handles not once but on numerous occasions- such appalling times.