The OECD Forum Network defines fake news as:
“journalism or information that either deliberately or unintentionally misleads people and distorts reality by spreading false information, hoaxes, propaganda, or misrepresentation of facts”
The Cambridge Dictionary’s fake news definition is:
“false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke”
There is a helpful guide about fake news and why this is a particularly dangerous trend in the era of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Last week’s study from the Reuters Institute concluded that “misinformation about COVID-19 is as diverse as information about it.” The COVID-19 misinformation ecosystem is not dominated by any one actor or group – a range of actors, some foreign, some domestic, some politically motivated, others profit-driven, and so on – are responsible for sustaining it.
A data memo by the Oxford Internet Institute examined coronavirus coverage of state-backed English-language media in China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey. The study found that these outlets politicize health news by promoting anti-Western narratives and conspiracy theories.
EU Disinfo Lab’s Managing Director Gary Machado also stressed the distorting our assessments of the overall misinformation landscape, where “an overwhelming majority of the disinformation and misinformation we are observing is intra-EU and intra-member state, with different motives such as politics and money-making to name a few.”
Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s Digital Research Unit released the second in a series of reports on the information ecosystem around COVID-19, this time highlighting far-right mobilization. “Far-right groups and individuals are opportunistically using the ongoing pandemic to advance their movements and ideologies,” the report noted. “COVID-19 is being used as a ‘wedge issue’ to promote conspiracy theories, target minority communities, and call for extreme violence.”
Also, the organisation Debunk.eu made a research of online activities in Lithuania and spotted the fake news during the first two weeks of quarantine.
Social media companies are fighting disinformation. For example, Twitter announced that it would be donating $1 million equally between two organisations, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Women’s Media Foundation. Last week, Facebook also announced two tranches of $1 million each that it was donating respectively to news organisations for coronavirus reporting, and to fact-checking organisations to make sure that the content shared on Facebook remains on the straight and narrow when it comes to being accurate.
FirstDraft Guide. Verifying online information: 5 quick ways we can all double-check coronavirus information online. It’s in your family WhatsApp group, all over Twitter and clogging up our news feeds. This article presents are five quick things we can do to verify content online before we share.
SOMA’s new invetigation – coronavirus and 5G. The European Observatory against Disinformation (SOMA) has published an investigation that details a series of hoaxes and conspiracy theories related to an alleged correlation between Covid-19 and 5G technology. This investigation comes at a point in which disinformation on this issue is trending leading – as we will see – to unexpected and dangerous consequences.