OFCOM has also revealed that up to half of all UK adults who are active online have already been exposed to false information related to Coronavirus.
OFCOM is doing weekly research to understand how information is being shared during lockdown in a bid to increase awareness about the growing number of fake news articles circulating at the moment.
The false claim that drinking more water can ‘flush away’ the Coronavirus infection is the most seen with 35% of online adults having viewed it. The second most seen fake news is that gargling saltwater and avoiding cold food and drinks can treat the virus with 24% having looked at it.
Worryingly, 40% of adults say it is hard to separate fact from fiction, with 52% of 18-24 year-olds saying they’re having difficulty figuring out what information is true and what is false.
The OFCOM research also discovered that the public’s desire for frequent Coronavirus information is still very strong. It found that 99% of online adults are reading virus related news at least once a day, and approximately 1-in-4 people are looking up Coronavirus info more than 20 times a day.
The BBC seems to be the most popular source of news with 82% using it as their primary source of news and information. Watching the news on the whole has increased by a whopping 92% in March of this year compared to March 2019.
Social media and messaging apps are seen as the least trustworthy source of information with only 21% of adults trusting articles on social platforms. In contrast, 95% of people trust the NHS and 89% trust news coming directly from the UK government.
Luckily, lots of online channels are trying to tackle the problem of misinformation during this already scary and uncertain time. Most notably, WhatsApp is trying to stop the spread of Coronavirus fake news by limiting the amount of times a message can be forwarded.
Under the new limiting rule, if you receive a message that’s already been forwarded five times, you’ll only be able to forward it on yourself one chat at a time.
The Coronavirus crisis has led to a lot of fake news being shared via various channels, WhatsApp included. These range from false health advice to 5G conspiracy theories. WhatsApp has taken this step to try to make sure people are not exposed to fake news during this difficult time.
In a blog post, WhatsApp explained the decision by saying, “We’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”
So if someone does still want to share a post multiple times, they have to do so individually to each account as opposed to multiple recipients with one send.
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