Nearly 10% of coronavirus websites, false or suspicious
Experts agree that misinformation surrounding the coronavirus poses a threat to human health. The question is how to remedy the situation. Conspiracy theories and false claims can confound the public, whose only objective is to prevent or cure an acute, aggressive and bewildering disease.
Around the world, in languages from Hindi and Urdu to Hebrew and Farsi, social media posts and articles on websites have suggested that the disease escaped from a biolab, that gels or powders can cure it, and other misleading or blatantly false claims.
Media platforms are working to combat misinformation, ranging from freezing users’ Twitter accounts, to notifying Facebook users when information that they wish to share has been categorized as factually incorrect. Facebook has even offered the World Health Organization free advertising space. As the World Health Organization has stated, enough misinformation exists as to deem the situation an “infodemic.”
In some instances, links to factually incorrect coronavirus websites have duplicitously stolen users’ credit card information or other personally identifying info. Other sites are designed to pummel computers with malware or ransomware.
According to the cyber security firm Check Point, over 4,000 coronavirus related websites have been created since Jan 1st, and of those, 3% appear as malicious, while another 5% have been rated as suspicious. As this infodemic progresses, federal, legal and corporate frameworks are sure to slowly take shape, curbing these uniquely 21st century challenges.
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