Why you shouldn’t share fake news on social media

The internet has made it easy for people to keep in touch and to access important information. Information moves fast across platforms and can be shared among friends and family within minutes. While this may come as a great advantage, information shared via the internet can be false and cause confusion. Here’s why you should not share fake news on social media.

What is fake news?

According to the disaster management regulations of 2020, fake news are statements made about subjects and topics (e.g. COVID-19) with the intention to deceive the reader.

Types of fake news

Disinformation – Information that is not true and is intentionally created to harm a person, social group, organization or country in order to influence your opinion or to twist the truth. For example, there’s been a lot of news going around about COVID-19 and why it exists. There’s no evidence to support these claims and all they do is cause suspicion and anxiety.

Misinformation – This is information that is not true or inaccurate. This is similar to a game of broken telephone. If you hear any news via word of mouth, you are likely to change or forget certain facts when you tell it to someone else, and so the cycle of misinformation begins. A lot of the chain messages and posts we see on social media are examples of this, which is why we should be careful not to share things that don’t come from credible sources.

Mal-information – Changing or twisting true information or intentionally sharing information that is personal or private. This is also used to deceive readers or to influence your opinion.

How to avoid sharing fake news

The best way you can avoid the spread of fake news, is making sure that you read or listen to news from a verified source. Make sure that you can find the original source of information before you share the information with anyone. For example, COVID-19 updates can be found on the World Organisation Health website or on the Department of Health Website.

Unfollow pages or people who insist on sharing fake news. Remember that according to the disaster management regulations Act of 2020, the sharing of fake news is a punishable act and you can be a fined or imprisoned for up to 6 months or both. The current pandemic is stressful enough, Choma, we don’t need to be causing more anxiety through the spread of news that’s not true.

Report fake news

You are strongly encouraged to report any fake news reported by any social media site or person on your social media platforms. Simply send a WhatsApp message to 067 966 4015 regarding posts, articles or documents that are spreading fake news. Make sure that you attach links that lead to posts, articles or documents. To find out more about how you can report fake news and/or verify information, read this.

I know that this is a difficult time and we are all doing the best we can to stay informed and protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19. We are also trying our best to stay connected to friends and relatives, and sharing things on social media is one way to do this. However, we need to make sure that the info we are posting is not harmful or untrue. So, be careful of what you are sharing on social media and make sure you are verifying your sources before clicking the ‘send’ or ‘share’ button.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).