The Pandemic Infodemic
Infodemic refers to the spread of fake news around coronavirus pandemic. While experts claim that false information around this topic is spreading faster than the virus itself, here is a strategy tech giants claim to be following to inhibit the spread of falsehood:
- Promoting good information: Highlighting the best information is paramount. Searching coronavirus on Google and YouTube will get you the latest stories from trusted news sources, followed by links to WHO and CDC. On similar lines, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter are giving away advertising slots to trusted organizations to spread the right message.
- Demoting bad information: This is where social media platforms plugin fact-checking platforms which induce AI to label potentially incorrect information as “false”. In such a case, user is notified with a message “The primary claims in the information are factually inaccurate” and keeps it from spreading widely.
- Keeping misinformation from appearing in the first place: Several videos of users trying to capitalize on the opportunity by claiming to have caught the virus only to get more “likes” or “followers” have been taken down. Following suite, Amazon has also taken down more than a million products that claimed to cure the virus.
Additionally, tech giants and government agencies have created task forces to turn down any false information within 24 hours of their first publish on their platform. However, all the mentioned efforts seem to be fruitless in eradicating the humongous amount of user-created misinformation we have gathered. To complicate the matters further, platforms like Facebook and Twitter have an additional step to de-code personal messages. Clearly, none of us were prepared for this! Who would have that the year of 2020- that was supposed to be about flying cars and uploading our brains to the cloud- would instead see supermarket riots over toilet paper?!