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Editorial | Vaccine against misinformation

There is so much misinformation going on in social media that as one would say, we will not die of the virus but of misinformation.

Social media has been around for more than 10 years and as the number of users balloon across the world, instead of being more savvy in receiving and sharing information, the learning arc of the perception on what is true or not does not seem to improve.

Misinformation has grown more sinister in this time of the coronavirus outbreak.

The World Health Organization is calling it an “infodemic,” which means a deluge of information on social media and websites – some of it accurate, some of them astounding in its fakeness. The most popular being passed around is that the virus is a man-made bioweapon manufactured in the laboratories of China or the US and that the virus has claimed more than a 100,000 lives (or even more).

There are so many theories being posted and shared that has only caused confusion, if nothing else. So many experts on the virus, including how to properly wear mask, have come out of the wood work. Here lies the rub.

Who are we going to believe?

Last Sunday, March 9, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation 922, declaring a public health emergency over the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. It will remain in effect until lifted by the President. With the report of local transmission cases, the declaration will “, intensify government response and measures, and enforce quarantine and disease control prevention measures.”

Apart from this, we believe the communications office of the government should fact check misinformation going the rounds in the internet. Knowing how we easily believe information, having a credible fact checking team can really go a long way in putting an end to the lies being peddled online.

As Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies program, said during a WHO briefing last January, “we need a vaccine against misinformation.”

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