Avoiding fake news on COVID-19 by listening to approved directives
Facts not fiction
All around the world, people are taking necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families from coronavirus. Sound preparation, based on scientific evidence, is what is needed at this time.
However, while many people are sharing information about the virus and how to protect against it, only some of that information is useful or reliable. Misinformation during times of a health crisis can spread paranoia, fear, and stigmatization. It can also result in people being left unprotected or more vulnerable to the virus.
For example, a recent erroneous online message circulating in several languages around the world and claiming to be a UNICEF communication appears to indicate, among other things, that avoiding ice cream and other cold foods can help prevent the onset of the disease. This is, of course, not true at all.
Another local example in Tanzania includes similar misguiding messages stating that the consumption of alcohol and antibiotics help to prevent COVID19, which of course is false.
To the creators of such falsehoods, we offer a simple message: STOP. Sharing inaccurate information and attempting to imbue it with authority by misappropriating the names of those in a position of trust is unethical, dangerous and wrong.
To members of the public, we ask that you seek accurate information about how to keep yourself and your family safe from verified sources, such as from UNICEF or WHO, government health officials and trusted healthcare professionals; and that you refrain from sharing information from untrustworthy or unverified sources.
UNICEF is actively taking steps to provide accurate information about the virus by working with the World Health Organization, government authorities and with online partners like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok to make sure that accurate information and advice is available, as well as taking steps to inform the public when inaccurate information emerges.
- Adapted from article on www.unicef.org