WHO Says Bogus Coronavirus Claims Causing ‘Infodemic’

The World Health Organization (WHO) is advising tech companies to take stricter action to fight fake news on the coronavirus.

The endeavor comes as a representative from the WHO toured Silicon Valley to speak straight to tech companies about the propagation of false information.

The WHO has called the propagation of fake news on the epidemic an “infodemic.”

More than 1,000 people have passed away as a result of the epidemic, which started in central China but has spread worldwide.

Andrew Pattison, a digital business solutions director, for the WHO said incorrect information was “spreading quicker than the virus”.

Bogus statements that the virus was spread by having bat soup or could be treated by garlic have already grabbed the web.

‘Not based on science’

Mr Pattison talked on Thursday to a meeting of tech firms hosted at Facebook’s headquarters in Mountain View California.

Other firms in presence included Apple, Google, Lyft, Airbnb, Uber and Salesforce.

Previously in the week, he held meetings with Amazon, at the e-commerce giant’s head office in Seattle.

Courtesy TIKTOK

After the outbreak of the coronavirus was called a public health emergency, books on the virus – which Mr Pattison said were not “founded on science” – have been nipping up for sale on the e-retailer.

The WHO is also worried that when users search for the word coronavirus on Amazon, items for face masks and vitamin C boosters appear. Vitamin C has been registered as one of the fake treatment for coronavirus.

Social media firms have already taken few steps to take away false claims and encourage accurate information.

YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok are already guiding users that search for coronavirus on their sites to the World Health Organization or local health organisations.

People searching on Google’s search engines, in the meantime, are presented news and safety tips. Facebook has said it will use its current network of third-party fact-checkers to demystify false claims.

Mr Pattison said this was an occasion for these firms to reconsider how they tackled misinformation.

“I think what would be very thrilling is to see this emergency turned into a long-term sustainable model, where we can have trustworthy content on these platforms.”

The WHO has faced the disapproval of its own for the way it has tried to handle the crisis.


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