Fake news is a bane in this era of technology. With technology spreading its wings wider and wider, the instances of its misuse increase as well. We are very well acquainted with the incessant forwards that we get on social apps, most prominently over WhatsApp and Facebook. Though many of us are aware of the disaster this could bring, there are plenty who don’t think about the consequences of their actions.
While the world is gripped with fear regarding the wildfire spread of COVID-19, there are people who are still engaged in such deplorable acts. We are not only fighting a pandemic but also an infodemic, according to the director-general of the WHO. Part of his speech at the Munich Security Conference was, “Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as dangerous.”
Many rumors are in circulation about the Coronavirus. That is not all. People are indulgent about spreading such rumors as well. All of this is leading to the creation of unnecessary panic among the masses. Panic and fear are something that should be avoided at all costs. The spread of fake news will lead to massive disharmony and division among people.
Very strict actions have been implemented against anyone responsible for spreading fake news. Many incidents of this have been reported across the country. In Odisha, many cases of violations have been registered. The first such case came from the district of Rayagada on 14th March. He later admitted to spreading fake rumors via Facebook.
And that is not all. At least five people have been booked for spreading fake news in the Bhadrak district, including a woman. In another incident, six people were arrested for creating panic among people via fake Facebook posts. This included a school teacher as well. Subroto Bagchi, the chief spokesperson for COVID-19 has warned people of Odisha over many occasions against spreading fake news and information. He warned told the state of severe penalties against those who are found guilty of creating panic under the IT Act and Epidemic Act”.
It has been observed that owing to fake news, many people aren’t informing the authorities of their symptoms. As many such fake forwards include claimed ‘home remedies’, people are naively thinking they can cure themselves. Such ignorance will lead to the accelerated spread of the virus. People can become super-spreaders and it will be difficult to control the situation.
Odisha had the numbers under control up until recently. As of 5th April, there has been a huge spike in the number of positive cases in the state. Sixteen positive cases were reported in one day. Bhubaneswar has become a hotspot for positive cases with 31 confirmed cases out of a possible 39.
In these trying times, all I can request to people is that, follow the norm of social-distancing, don’t spread hate and panic, and DO NOT TAKE THIS PANDEMIC LIGHTLY. Only trust government-approved sites for official information. please refrain from listening to or spreading any fake news, for your sake as well as others.
Godspeed, fellow citizens.