Is your mother unknowingly spreading fake coronavirus news on WhatsApp? Here’s how to help her stop

Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images
Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images

The lockdown means a lot of free time for those who are working from home or whose working hours have been cut short.

During this time, millennials and Gen Zs have taken to social media to complain about their loved ones – especially their moms – unknowingly believing and forwarding chain messages, which are usually fake, that spread fear and panic about the coronavirus.

Read more: 7 simple steps to spot fake news

The  government has already stated that those who spread fake news can and will be liable for prosecution.

Read more: People who spread fake news are either criminals or just stupid – social media experts

These messages usually get forwarded to family groups and include shady health tips, updates on lockdown and announcements about the virus across the world. This can be dangerous because the information is usually misleading and causes unnecessary fear.

So how do you help your loved ones spot fake news easier? How can you successfully explain to family members who spread fake news that it is indeed fake?

A BBC Monitoring's disinformation specialist explained how to spot fake news online with these four keys:

1.       Always check your sources. This means checking to see if the language is sensationalised or full of words that are redundant and/or loaded.

2.       A quote and a picture of that person doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Double-check trusted sources – did the person actually say it?

3.       Look closer! Try to zoom in on a picture to see if the shop in the background or the street name is adjacent to the location that is named in the article.

4.       Trust your instincts. Is there anything suspicious about an account or the message? For example: look at an account impersonating a celebrity to see if there are random numbers or does their bio match their activity?

Read more: FAKE NEWS | No, Covid-19 testing kits are not contaminated

The best sources to trust, during this pandemic, are from the government, the World Health Organization and, with caution, news outlets. Always think twice before sending or forwarding a message.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24