Since the onset of the deadly Coronavirus last year and with that, a flurry of lockdowns and curfews, most of the world has come to a standstill. Sitting at home, as simple as it sounds, has proven to be really exhausting for millions of people.
It has taken a massive toll on people’s mental health and has driven many to a state of anxiety and depression. In these testing times, the internet and social media has been a consistent savior for a lot of people. In a world of quarantine and social distancing, social media has proven to be the best conduit for people to establish communication with their friends and relatives.
The internet has been of great help to track and learn more about the ongoing pandemic and the current situation of the world.
Spreading of Information that Are ‘NOT’ True
While the internet and social media has been a boon to the world with a massive flow of useful information, it has also given space for the spread of misinformation. The internet is a double-edged sword. In the right hands, it can slay the evil and in the wrong hands, it can give rise to one.
Ever since the pandemic began, there has been a rampant spread of misinformation, propaganda and fake news across social media regarding the virus and its handling.
We are at war with not one but two enemies: the pandemic and the ‘Infodemic’, a term coined by the World Health Organisation. There is so much information on the web that it is hard for people to tell apart the genuine ones from the fake ones.
From those Whatsapp forwards in the groups to those ‘trending’ tweets on Twitter, infodemic seems to be gaining an edge over the general public. There was a popular Whatsapp forward which said that the virus stays in the throat for a few hours before proceeding into the body and that drinking warm water and gargling will straight away kill the virus.
If only that were true, the world wouldn’t have to spend billions of dollars on the health sector and vaccines. Messages like these give a false sense of hope to the masses and that can be very precarious. There is an ongoing spar between Baba Ramdev and the IMA, where Baba Ramdev has been accused of making bold statements regarding the efficacy of Ayurveda against the virus in a world where allopathy has been the saving grace to date.
Pictures That Depict A Whole New Story Are Now In Circulation
On Twitter, one can see several photos of pre-COVID cremations and dead bodies passed off as post-COVID photos to consternation. In 2020, a bizarre conspiracy theory was propagated that 5G Technology is the cause for the spread of the virus. A rumour of a lockdown of essential commodities resulted in people gathering in large numbers and hoarding the essential supplies.
Recently, there was a Whatsapp forward which misquoted the words of a prominent French Novel Laureate and Virologist stating that any person who has been vaccinated will die within a couple of years, which was thoroughly deceitful and created panic among people. 
Miscreants have stooped as low as to claim that certain vaccines contain trackers through which people can be tracked by the government. In some places, communal angles have been given to COVID cases and deaths to spur violence and turmoil.
There are pages like PIB Fact-Check, Boom Live, etc. which have done well to call out fake and misleading news. Despite all this, the onus lies on the general public to be responsible citizens by verifying the source and validity of the news before sharing them with others.
These are only a few of the many instances where false information and fake news have been circulated for ulterior motives. Governments across the world have joined hands with social media firms to eliminate these evils and to strike out panic and havoc among people. The WHO has launched a Myth-busting drive to spread awareness against fake news.
A fake and alarming news piece spreads like wildfire, and we can douse the fire by blanketing it with the veil of fact-checking. The world is already going through a lot of ordeals. Fear and chaos, are the last things we need in this battle of mankind against the pandemic.
Student at Xavier Law School, Bhubaneswar.
I like to stay up-to-date with all the happenings in and around the world, with a special interest in Geo-politics and law.