South Africa: Fake News and Misinformation Kill - How Can You Trust What You Are Told About Covid-19?

A resident of Mamelodi during the Covid-19 lockdown (file photo).
analysis

In the past 10 months, as Covid-19 has swept the globe, the internet and media have also been ablaze with stories, reports and ever-changing guidelines on how to stay safe in a world that appears to be out of control. But what should we believe and what can we trust? As importantly, how do we spot 'fake news' and misinformation? In this special advisory, a collective of over 20 of SA's leading doctors and scientists offer their advice.

Living in a digital world means that we have access to the latest information on just about any subject. While this can be powerful and empowering, it can also be harmful. Access to information online is empowering because we can stay abreast of the latest knowledge about Covid-19 and can share useful data that, in the interests of public health, can help people change their behaviour and stay safe.

However, it's increasingly difficult to know how to sift out the truth from the masses of lies, misinformation and myths that are also all over the internet and social media, in an environment where the phrase "fake news" is applied to anything someone does not agree with, and truth is a political and...

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