The Impact Of Fake News And Conspiracy Theories

Fake news has been around as long as human civilization. Recently it has been turbo-charged by digital technology and the transformation of the global media landscape. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the spread of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus threatens to undermine legitimate efforts to combat the disease, while causing lasting harm. 

At best, conspiracy theories are a distraction, yet such misguided beliefs could ultimately lead to  disregard of medical advice or even worse. 

While in the past untruths and distortions of fact and history were successfully disseminated through word of mouth, manuscripts and even tape recordings, modern technology has created new vectors – starting with radio.Technology has now made it so easy to create what even a few decades ago required a large investment, whether  through access to printing presses, studios or broadcast transmitters.

Fake news  is a form of news consisting of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional news media or online social media. Digital news has  increased the usage of fake news. The news is often reverberated as misinformation in social media but occasionally finds its way to the mainstream media as well.

The illusory truth effect describes the fact that if a falsehood is repeated often enough, people will start to believe it. This has to do with familiarity – it’s easier to process information that you have come across previously. 

Truth is a precarious thing, not because it doesn’t objectively exist, but because the incentives to warp it can be so strong. It’s up to each of us to seek it out. Nevertheless, defenders of fact and truth still have weapons to help uphold integrity in the social, political and economic environments by reporting responsibly.

Conspiracy theories are indeed a distraction, but such misguided beliefs could  be harmful to the global population, both psychologically and holistically. 

The question is; “Are we fighting a global pandemic or a fake worldwide infodemic”

By: Lorraine Richards

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