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India: Flood of misinformation amid pandemic21 November 2020

Experts draw attention to fake news, rumors about coronavirus

The spread of COVID-19 has simultaneously led to a flood of misinformation, experts said at a summit in New Delhi.

“It is not just fake news which misleads people but it is also making people less likely to accept truthful information. And that is a serious challenge,” said Syed Nazakat, founder at DataLeads, a digital media and information initiative.

Nazakat said many new studies that have been published during the COVID-19 pandemic do not adhere to the standards for scientific research thereby contributing to the problem of medical misinformation.

The two-day summit covered a range of topics including the global response to the pandemic, initiatives taken by social media platforms and fact-checkers to fight medical misinformation, and how countries from across the globe dealt with challenges related to data transparency and data accuracy.

“We receive loads of unverified information on health from family and friends via digital platforms. It is thus highly important for the technology industry to slow down the spread of mis- and disinformation during COVID-19,” said Sameer Pujari, head of Digital Country Capacity at the World Health Organization.

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