New Delhi: ‘Lemon juice up the nose will kill coronavirus.’ ‘Keeping bundles of cloves, cardamom, camphor and mace in the pocket keeps keep coronavirus at bay.’
‘The COVID-19 vaccine generates magnetic properties in the human body.’
Misinformation such as the statements above and many more like these have been spread around the country repeatedly, leading India to become the biggest source of COVID-19 misinformation, as per a study published in Sage’s International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions journal.
The study, ‘Prevalence and Source Analysis of COVID-19 Misinformation in 138 Countries’ analysed 9,657 pieces of misinformation that originated in 138 countries.
They were fact-checked by 94 organisations to understand the prevalence and sources of misinformation in different countries.
The study revealed that with 18.07 percent, India produced the largest amount of social media misinformation.
The study also revealed that India (15.94 percent), the US (9.74 percent), Brazil (8.57 percent) and Spain (8.03 percent) are the four most misinformation-affected countries.
The study found social media is the biggest producer of misinformation, accounting for 85 percent of it and the Internet (90.5 percent) as a whole is responsible for most of the COVID-19 misinformation. Moreover, Facebook alone produces 66.87 percent of the misinformation among all social media platforms.
The study said that it was perhaps the country’s higher internet penetration rate, increasing social media consumption and users’ lack of internet literacy that has led to the social media misinformation.
“Misleading information surges when a crisis first appears and reliable data isn’t readily available,” said the author of the study Md Sayeed Al-Zaman.
A report by IAMAI Kantar ICUBE showed that there were 299 million internet users in the past year or 31 percent of India’s rural population, said the report.
On the other hand, internet users in urban India rose by 4 percent to 323 million in 2020, around 67 percent of the urban population in 2020.
During the coronavirus pandemic, credible news has often been drowned out by unverified information online. Misinformation related to false cures and conspiracy theories caused panic, anxiety and fear as the virus was spreading. Furthermore, the vaccination drive in India has also been affected owing to poor digital literacy. First Post