Censorship and the Global Spread of Fake News on Coronavirus
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense harm to the world. It has led to huge problems with health, employment, businesses, and several other areas. But what many discuss even more often recently is the issue of coronavirus conspiracy theories. There are lots of them going around. And without the right facts and evidence, it’s difficult to tell what’s true.
Misleading information around coronavirus has been so rampant all around the world. Many groups are coming up with their own reasons and coronavirus conspiracy theories. Sadly, this is posing a negative impact on the fight against the virus. As scientists and governments continue to struggle in a bid to ward off the disease, some people are just making it more and more difficult.
The spread of coronavirus conspiracy theories and other fake news has triggered governments to impose censorship. Notably, some are lenient and allow their citizens to discuss anything they want. But for other governments, this is a no. They have censored social media and all other avenues that induce the spread of coronavirus conspiracy theories.
Censorship on Social Media Platforms to Control Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories
The censorship of major social media platforms is not something new. It has happened before and continues to take place from time to time. The most common social media platforms that have undergone censorship include Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Sometimes even YouTube goes through the same censorship in a bid to control what type of information people can access.
These platforms, on their own, also randomly and constantly remove content that violates their terms. And they update their terms quite frequently. Most of the content they ban and remove from their sites includes hate speech and demeaning statements. They also get rid of fake news and false information such as coronavirus conspiracy theories and other misleading content. In most cases, they don’t remove the post on their platforms completely, but rather flag it for stale information.
Pundits in the social media and tech space have argued that social media platforms shouldn’t be interrupted by the government. As private companies, they should have the right to decide which content to publish. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
We all know the basic premise for social media is freedom of speech. These are places where people go and freely express themselves. However, government involvement on social platforms has given some users an extra reason to buy into certain coronavirus conspiracy theories. And the same applies to fake news.
Many users never expected to face censorship when joining social media sites. To a majority of users, they are the place to truly express how they feel. But the truth is that there’s a limit to what you can say or express on social media platforms. Recently, governments from different parts of the world have started to limit how much a person can say or do on social media. And hence, the idea of global censorship comes into existence.
Governments that have been able to censor social media sites have ideally reduced the rate of flow of misinformation. Surely, they have toned down the spread of coronavirus conspiracy theories by a margin. But also, does this affect the basic principles of free speech and human rights?
The Remedy to Misinformation and Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories
There’s a lot of fake news and many coronavirus conspiracy theories going on all over the world. And while scientists try to create credible information for the masses, some people still insist on spreading their coronavirus conspiracy theories.
And as we earlier alluded, misinformation is distorting the fight against the pandemic. It’s not just stressing governments, but also health workers. So, what’s the solution to dealing with this problem? What can governments and their citizens do to contribute to the fight against misinformation?
A suggestion is to conduct civic education in a bid to debunk coronavirus conspiracy theories. People need to take every on social media with a pinch of salt. The general understanding of how social media works may also help users filter the right message among the noise. It can help them decide what’s right or wrong, and what they can and can’t share on these platforms. That’s a good step to control coronavirus conspiracy theories and the spread of misinformation.
The Use of Mainstream Media
Conventional media sources such as newspapers, radios, and TV stations can help spread a cautious word about coronavirus conspiracy theories. At least, people still rely on them for daily news. They are great avenues to cut down the spread of misinformation. Moreover, they should take the center stage in the fight against coronavirus conspiracy theories and misleading information.
At the moment, the general public should understand that scientists are still conducting research. Therefore, not all information is available when needed. Everyone should be patient, look out for credible sources of news, and always reflect on proven information.
Censorships do happen because of different reasons. And they either take place from the government’s end or through social media platforms. The most important aim is to control the spread of misinformation and coronavirus conspiracy theories. The more we know the truth, the sooner we can unite all efforts to battle against COVID-19.