Alvin John Ballares
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Corona Virus, beyond dispute, has changed our lives. This virus has shut down the world, cancelled our vacations, made us pack more pounds, caused depression, and in other ways we never expected. Right, what a bummer!
What exacerbates this pandemic is the proliferation of wrong information that spreads faster than the virus itself, and as the World Health Organization (WHO) puts it, “we are fighting an infodemic… it’s a massive distraction.”
I’m pretty sure the term rings a bell – you’ve come across the term fake news several times already (unless you’re living under a rock). Fake news of different sorts are being spread in a consistent and rapid pace, targeting the most vulnerable, unsuspecting mouse potatoes through provocative stories and, of course, through MEMES.
Here’s a list of absurd COVID-19 relevant fake news:
– Bill Gates or George Soros orchestrated this global pandemic for mandatory vaccinations and microchipping people.
– Eating garlic makes you immune to COVID 19.
– Drinking lukewarm water does not help you kill the virus.
– Homeophatic medication can cure COVID-19.
– FABUNAN Anti-viral Injection can treat the Corona Virus
FIGHTING FAKE NEWS
In response to this situation of disorientation and uncertainty, humanists from all around the world through Humanists International together with member organizations, HAPI included, launched a social media campaign called COVID-19 #MythBusters: a series of memes displaying evidence-based messages translated into multiple languages, to counter misinformation about COVID-19.
The goal is to reach those millions of people who may not have access to proper scientific information in their own language. To date, Humanists International managed to translate them into 17 major languages. Humanist Alliance Philippines, International participated with a Tagalog translation of these memes and in fact, I translated them myself! Here’s my rendition.
5G Does Not Spread the New Corona Virus
Antibiotics are ineffective against any virus
Don’t drink or inject bleach or disinfectant
No one ethnicity is more resistant to the virus
You can get the virus from people who don’t look sick
COVID 19 is much more lethal than seasonal flus
SARS CoV 2 is a product of natural evolution
No antiviral drug is available for COVID-19 yet
Filipinos’ Penchant for Malice and Intrigue
The Philippines is no stranger to fake news. It is ingrained in our culture already in our chismis (gossip) culture which makes a perfect Petri dish for the growth of fake news. Well in fact, we have a well-oiled machinery of fake news through social media, powered by people of influence, like Mocha Uson and Lorraine Badoy, who both have made a career out of their brazen dishonesty.
Certainly these people are committed to promote disinformation, which is the deliberate peddling of misleading or biased information, and manipulating narratives. Disinformation has its baby brother in misinformation, which is false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead. A good example of this is DJ Loonyo in his flawed retort against mass testing for COVID-19. Surely, the list of fake news advocates can go on ad infinitum.
Fact-check, or else
It is just absolutely necessary to ‘fact-check’ before sharing articles on social media. We don’t want to become peddlers of fake news, do we?
As secular humanists, I urge you to do a self-check to make sure we are informed by Science and guided by Reason. Now our best chance for preventing the spread of fake news is to make sure that we arm ourselves with facts and make them available to many. Check on your friends and families; be a gatekeeper.