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UNESCO Says Fake News Could Be Fatal During Coronavirus Crisis

The director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Guy Berger, has condemned the spread of misinformation relating to the novel Coronavirus.

Berger explained that the misinformation regarding the disease has spread to all aspects of the disease and the impact of these falsehoods has real impact;

There seems to be barely an area left untouched by disinformation in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, ranging from the origin of the coronavirus, through to unproven prevention and ‘cures’, and encompassing responses by governments, companies, celebrities and others.

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In a time of high fears, uncertainties and unknowns, there is fertile ground for fabrications to flourish and grow. The big risk is that any single falsehood that gains traction can negate the significance of a body of true facts.

When disinformation is repeated and amplified, including by influential people, the grave danger is that information which is based on truth, ends up having only marginal impact.

Guy Berger -UNESCO Director

Some of the false theories that have been spread include claims that people with darker skin or those living in warmer climates are immune to the disease which has been disproven but only at the cost of people actually contracting the disease and some actually passing on.

UNESCO’s Director also acknowledged the fact that those behind the misinformation have different motives which further complicates the situation;

The motives for spreading disinformation are many, and include political aims, self-promotion, and attracting attention as part of a business model. Those who do so, play on emotions, fears, prejudices and ignorance, and claim to bring meaning and certainty to a reality that is complex, challenging and fast-changing.

Guy Berger

Oh and to complicate the situation further are those who spread false information without knowing that it is false. Yuhp we all know a relative who is always first to spread false information and they actually believe that they are helping to inform. Unfortunately, whether or not their intentions are good, the impact of this could lead to death and Mr Berger points this out;

These different motives require different responses, but we should not lose sight of the fact that, irrespective of intention, the effect of sharing falsehoods is to disinform and disempower the public, with deadly potential.

Guy Berger

What can be done?

The best way to fight misinformation is to provide accurate information; this is why there have been WhatsApp bots, webpages and articles all over the internet looking to provide accurate information.


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