File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
People should rely on verified sources of information, like the WHO or verified and credible media outlets.
With more than 400 people dead, China's deadly coronavirus is spreading fast, but misinformation on the outbreak is spreading faster. We live in the digital age and misinformation can go viral in no time, proving to be fatal.
It's not the first time that biological weapons have been used as an argument to justify outbreaks. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, a think tank had published this analysis, where the author linked the SARS to China's biological warfare programme. Ultimately this claim was found to be incorrect.
This is happening again, and thanks to social media, misinformation is travelling even faster. World bodies like the WHO have jumped in, they are using their own social media presence to debunk the falsehoods.
Several people tweeted that Coronavirus was moved from Canada to China by a scientist. The misleading claim was retweeted by over twelve thousand people.
WATCH: Wuhan Virus and Misinformation
It's difficult to measure the damage misinformation is doing to society, but it's easy to prove that unproven claims are travelling faster than facts.
Social media companies are now removing any posts and claims - that are not backed by science.
But, considering the volume of information that's out there, they might not be able to respond quickly enough. And hence, it's important that people do not believe everything they see online.
Every information received on social media or WhatsApp concerning the outbreak must be crosschecked. People should rely on verified sources of information, like the WHO or verified and credible media outlets.
(Disclaimer: WION Edit is the channel's take on the big events of the world)