Social Media is probably the most outstanding evidence of how the internet has made the world one common playroom. However, the general lack of increased fact-checking amongst its users is a worrying trend, especially in this era of the COVID-19 health crisis.
At the onset of the novel Coronavirus, a majority of the world population ran to our favourite modern Newsroom to get more information: Social Media. There was accurate information alright, but the threat posed by disinformation campaigns easily influenced the attitudes of many towards the dangers of COVID-19.
From the corners of Twitter to the depths of Reddit, online spaces were awash with conspiracy theories trying to explain the source of this new virus. We can all remember a time when a populace of activists linked 5G to the spread of Covid19, both being new entrants to the world at the time. Protesters across Europe even took down 5G masts in a bid to “save” us from the pandemic.
More than a year later and with hundreds of vaccines being tested and several already administered to millions of people, activists are using online platforms to derail these efforts.
At the moment, Facebook is conducting a massive observation into the doubts emerging from its users as regards the vaccines. Their behind-the-scene probe involves teaching software that can analyze medical attitudes online. Since late December of 2020, Facebook has been banning false and misleading information about vaccines.
A statement through a Facebook spokesperson says: “We remove harmful misinformation about Covid-19 and the vaccines, and between March and October we removed more than 12 million pieces of such content from our platforms. We’ve also directed more than 10 million visits to the NHS and government websites with authoritative information on Covid-19 and the vaccines.”
As of 1st March 2021, Twitter started applying labels to tweets that have outright misleading information on Covid vaccines, to protect the public conversations on their platform as regards anything Covid related. So far, they have removed a record of more than 8,400 Tweets and challenged 11.5 million-plus accounts worldwide.
In a statement on their blog, Twitter stated that they are not only enforcing twitter rules for its more than 300 million monthly active users, “but also helping people find credible health information and partnering with the experts.”
A recent quick look by Techweez found countless comments and posts on all online spaces with opinions that may not necessarily cause harm, but influence hesitancy and fear of the vaccines.
Indeed, tech giants have a social and moral responsibility to ensure their users have reliable and trusted sources for accurate information on covid19 and its vaccination process. This task cannot however be delegated to these companies alone.
Social Media is dragging our efforts against the pandemic. All users must therefore ensure they get the correct information from relevant and established outlets for news and health authorities, rather than from what their friends share on social media.