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Why should we report misinformation?

Over a year since the pandemic was declared, the cases of COVID-19 are on the rise again around the world. There was a decline in cases at the start of the year, which shows that we can work together to bring the virus under control.

While we are waiting for vaccinations to reach everyone, everywhere – we all need to do what we can to stop the spread and help protect ourselves and our communities. 

We can all play our part by wearing a mask, physically distancing, washing hands regularly and opening doors and windows to let the fresh air in, and reporting misinformation. 

Unlike previous episodes of widespread disinformation, more of the current content are about manipulated and yet-to-be-proved theories or treatments that are touted as ground-breaking discoveries. Social media is the source of 8 out of 10 of false misinformation. Mis- and disinformation are also increasingly transmitted via messaging services such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. 

Figure 1: Source: Adapted from Wardle C., Derakshan H. (2017), Information Disorder: Towards an interdisciplinary framework for research and policymaking, Council of Europe report, DGI(2017)09.

If you see content online that you believe to be false or misleading, you can report it to the hosting social media platform. How? 

Facebookto mark a post as false news:

1. Click next to the post you’d like to mark as false.

2. Click Find support or report post.

3. Click False Information, then click Next.

4. Click Done.

YouTubeYouTube staff review reported videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A video can be reported at any time once uploaded to YouTube, and then it is reviewed by YouTube staff. 

1. Sign in to YouTube.

2. Below the player for the video you want to report, click More.

3. In the drop-down menu, choose Report.

4. Select the reason that best fits the violation in the video.

5. Provide any additional details that may help the review team make their decision, including timestamps or descriptions of the violation.

Twitter

1. Navigate to the Tweet you’d like to report.

2. Tap the icon located at the top of the Tweet.

3. Select Report Tweet.

Instagram: to report a post as false information:

1. Tap (iPhone) or(Android) above the post.

2. Tap Report.

3. Tap It’s inappropriate.

4. Scroll down and tap False information.

5. Select an option, then tap Submit Report.

For WhatsApp and Viber: personally message the person sending misinformation on your group chat. “Have you verified the information you sent on the group chat? If not, why are you sharing it?”

Stopping the pandemic will only be possible if we also stop the infodemic of misinformation about the virus, SARS-CoV-2, the disease COVID-19, and the public health measures needed to beat the pandemic. Research has confirmed that lies spread faster than truth – mainly because they are not bound to the same rules as truth. Help put an end to the pandemic – report misinformation! 

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This applies to misinformation and disinformation too! If we do not report them, they continue to spread and confuse people. 

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Dr. Melvin Sanicas (@Vaccinologist) is a physician-scientist specializing in vaccines, infectious diseases, and global health.

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