Stop with the recycled fake news from MCO 1.0


Stop with the recycled fake news from MCO1.0
By Zan Azlee

So it looks like MCO 3.0 is sparking off another wave of, not new daily infection rates, but a new wave of fake news being spread all over the Internet and on social media. You would think that after a year has gone by living in a pandemic as serious as the one that we are going through right now, we would have learned a lot about the coronavirus.

One of the pieces of fake news starting to make the rounds again on the Internet is that famous advice for people to dry out their groceries under the hot afternoon sun in order to kill off any existence of the virus. I noticed a couple of my neighbours have started to do it again.

There is also another piece of news that is going around on social media where a mother talks about how her 20-year-old son died of Covid-19 after receiving a package from a courier service guy (I’m not going to name the courier service company). But yes, one more piece of fake news making the rounds.

Another thing that has also taken me by surprise is the fact that there are many instances of people panic buying when the MCO 3.0 was announced. Haven’t we already learnt from the first MCO and the second MCO that food supplies will always be available? This is something that the government has already assured us of.

I don’t mean to take Covid-19 and the pandemic lightly. That’s not it at all. In fact, I think that it’s important that we do everything we can to follow the prescribed advice of always wearing a mask, sanitising our hands and keeping socially distanced from other people. These three things are of utmost importance.

It’s just that there is so much fake news coming out that feeds towards the paranoia that people feel now. I understand if this paranoia was at its height during the early days of the pandemic because people didn’t understand the coronavirus. But more than a year has gone by and we know so much more now.

Kuala Lumpur, during the start of the total lockdown.

More than a year ago, people were unfamiliar with the coronavirus. So they would bite into any single information that would come out without actually knowing if it’s real or not, and this is all because of fear. And in any unfamiliar situation like that, the risk of rumours spreading is very high.

But I think we understand the coronavirus much better now, even if we still haven’t really got a good grasp of controlling it. The same three important things that the authorities have been asking us to do from last year are still being told to us today. It has been consistent and it has been what is the new normal now, which is, again I repeat, wearing a mask, sanitising your hands and keeping socially distanced from other people.

So here’s a tip that I have for everyone out there and it’s a tip that I have given many times before. In fact, a lot of people have given this type of advice before. Don’t trust everything that you see, hear, view or read on the internet, especially if these are forwarded messages on social media.

If you do see something that you find interesting, please do check with a legitimate source. One of the best ways is to just go to a credible news website that you trust and see if whatever story that has been forwarded to you is also being reported at that credible outlet. If it isn’t, then it’s most likely fake news.

Even the different social media platforms have started taking actions to curb the spread of the news. Twitter has a function that questions you if you really want to forward or retweet a piece of information before you actually do it. WhatsApp now labels forwarded messages by different categories, such as ‘forwarded many times’, so that you can be more vigilant.

It’s not difficult, folks. All you need to do is just not believe everything that you see unless it comes from a credible source. It is even less complicated if you just make it a habit to only consume information about Covid-19 and the pandemic from credible news websites. You can’t go wrong that way.

Problem solved. It’s all reported in the news anyway. Just don’t believe what has been forwarded on social media, please. It’s really as simple as that because news organisations have journalists who constantly fact-check. They do the job for you so you don’t have to do it. You just need to consume it.

I want to say that you can go to the authorities, which is technically true. We can go to the authorities and listen to the press conferences and announcements that they make. It can be any truer than that if it comes straight from the horse’s mouth.

Of course, it doesn’t help if the authorities themselves seem to be fighting with each other and not being able to agree on the SOPs. But that is on them. They need to get their house in order first, before making announcements to the public so that people won’t be confused (which would actually push them to consume rumours!).

Let’s not regress to how we were more than a year ago when we had no idea what the pandemic is all about. We know more about it now than we did before, so we should be able to make better decisions. And yes, I do see the irony in saying that we should not regress to a year before when the situation in Malaysia now is worse than it was compared to, then.

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

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