Doctors say that coronovirus myths are ‘spreading faster than viruses’ on social media

According to a report about Facebook, a nonprofit civil society group, an estimated 460 million views spread on Facebook in April 2020, spreading worldwide as an epidemic.

Doctors Seema Yasmin and Craig Spencer wrote about the report in an opinion excerpt on the New York Times, where they discussed conversations with colleagues and patients who had read on social media.

“Everyone, at some level, is susceptible to this health misinformation and disintegration because there is so much crap out there that people who are circling it, the people who are pushing it are actually preying on the fact that We are really weak right now, we are scared, we are worried, we are overwhelmed with information, we don’t know what to believe, Yasmin told Don Lemon of CNN on Monday, “The president is saying one thing, Scientists are saying another. ”

The report, published on August 19, states that the bottom line, Facebook has failed to keep people safe and informed.

In a statement to CNN, a Facebook spokesperson said, while the company shares Avaaz’s goal to prevent the spread of misinformation, “their findings do not reflect the steps taken to stop the spread on our services . ”

The statement said, “From April to June, thanks to our global network of fact-checkers, we implemented warning labels on 98 million pieces of COVID-19 misinformation and removed 7 million pieces of material causing imminent harm. Is, “the statement said. “We have guided over 2 billion people from the resources of health authorities and when someone tries to share links about COVID-19, we show pop-ups to link them with reliable health information. ”

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‘Viral misinformation is spreading faster than virus’

Spencer told Leman, “It’s not just the patients and it’s not the people on the left or the people on the right. It’s everybody.”

“We see results in the clinic and emergency room,” Spencer and Yasmine wrote in the NYT. “Patients question our evidence-based medical guidance, refuse safe treatment and vaccines, and cite Facebook posts as ‘evidence’ that Kovid-19 is not genuine.”
According to a study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in early August, virus rumors, stigma and conspiracy theories are circulating in at least 87 countries in 25 different languages ​​and deaths due to the spread of misinformation. There are more injuries. .

Researchers had classified 2,311 reports related to potential Kovid-19 misinformation and 89% of those reports as rumors; 7.8% were conspiracy theories; And 3.5% were stigmas.

The study included some examples: “Poultry eggs are contaminated with coronavirus” and “drinking bleach may have caused the virus” rumors; “Every disease has ever come from China” was the stigma; And “this is a bio-weapon funded by Bill and Melinda Gates to advance vaccine sales” was a conspiracy theory.

“As a result of the weakening state of public health and science since the outbreak of this outbreak and this epidemic in America, people just don’t know where to go,” Spender said. “The fact that we don’t have a CDC that tells us updates every day in front of the public, gives us some information that is reliable, people have to find it on Facebook or find it on the President’s Twitter account. Huh. ”

The content of the top 10 websites that spread misinformation about health was nearly four times as high as the content of the top 10 leading health institutions on Facebook, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Voice report

Spencer said the lack of readily available information from the CDC and The Coronavirus Task Force has led people to places like Facebook where “viral misinformation is spreading faster than viruses.”

And the spread of misinformation is only making the jobs of doctors difficult.

Spencer and Yasmin wrote, “When we try, every day, our ability to counter these dangerous lies that lie between our patients and our peers, to provide counseling and care is reduced by a social network” NYT. “Facebook is making it difficult for us to do our work.”

Jacqueline Howard of CNN contributed to this report.