96 misinformation about the pandemic spread in the Turkish media

96 misinformation about the pandemic spread in the Turkish media
10 April 2020

The coronavirus pandemic brought intense information pollution in WhatsApp groups, social and traditional media. Fact-checking platform Teyit revealed 100 misinformation by examining 100 suspicious content covered in the media. 96 of the 100 content analyzed were based on misinformation, which was included in 2,712 news items.

*** This release is originally published in Turkish.
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ISTANBUL (TR) - Media was one of the areas under the influence of the new coronavirus pandemic that spread to the whole world starting from the city of Wuhan, China at the end of December. Dozens of false information spread in both social media and traditional media. Independent verification and fact-checking platform Teyit examined 100 suspicious content related to the new coronavirus in order to reveal the facts about the pandemic against this rapid flow of misinformation. As a result of the examinations, it was determined that there were 96 false information about the coronavirus in the media and these contents were reported 2,712 times. It has been seen that 7 thousand 691 reports have been published on four medicines named ibuprofen, favipiravir, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, whose effectiveness in Covid-19 treatment is still uncertain. The news that does not reflect the truth; The platform, which gathered under three different titles: conspiracy theories, wrong treatment and fake content, also made suggestions about what to do against this news that contains false and suspicious information.

Conspiracy theories claiming that the outbreak is planned are unfounded

16 of the 96 incorrect information examined consisted of conspiracy theories. 20 thousand of these contents were covered in the media as false news. One of the popular unfounded content that was spread on social media and that Covid-19 was invented in the laboratory and the vaccine was patented by the Pasteur Institute in 2014. The institute announced that the vaccine in the patent belongs to the virus called SARS-CoV, which appeared in China in 2002-2003 and denied the claim.

Another conspiracy theory that came to the fore was the claim that the new coronavirus outbreak was predicted in a report submitted to the German parliament in 2012. However, Teyit found that it is a hypothetical virus and that it is talking about the measures Germany will take in case of an outbreak of this virus. Finally, it was determined that the claim that the Gates Foundation patented the drug and prepared a spreading scenario three months before the coronavirus pandemic, which was sent to Teyit as a notice.

Treatment and healing claims have no scientific basis

Among the most common misinformation about the pandemic was the treatment and healing recommendations without scientific basis. Various fruit, vegetable and food suggestions such as onions, sumac, garlic, sheep’s head and foot soup, which are suggested to treat Covid-19 in the studies, were found to be widely spread in the media. While at least 10 wrong information was reflected in the media, this information was reported 948 times.

Although the effectiveness of coronavirus has not yet been confirmed, claims such as the development of coronavirus drug in Iran, the invention of the device to destroy Covid-19 in Turkey, the treatment of Covid-19 in Thailand, and the new coronavirus vaccine in Canada and Cuba have been shown to be highly relevant.

Drugs such as avipiravir, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which have yet to be tried for the treatment of Covid-19, have also been reported on news sites as the definitive treatment of the disease. The same was true of claims that ibuprofen made treatment difficult. Suspicious information about these four drugs, the positive or negative effects of which have not been proven, has been reported 7 thousand 691 times.

Incorrectly associated and fabricated content is spreading

Sharing, in which a graphic or table was prepared with the wrong information or that the person in the video was not the alleged person, was also among the suspicious content that Teyit examined. While there were a total of 70 news items in this category, all of these contents were found to be false and reported 744 times. Among the most notable reports was that the fee for diagnostic kits received from China was granted because of Turkey's assistance to China against the outbreak in 1940. Another unfounded sharing was the sharing of a photograph of the person carried on the stretcher with suspicion of Covid-19 in eight cities with eight different stories.

It was seen that the news mostly defined as social media, which is defined as false news, did not find an intense response in the press compared to other types of false news.

Five suggestions against misinformation

Stating that groundless claims cause panic and anxiety and that scientific information is not risky in terms of human health, Teyit chief editor Gülin Çavuş emphasized that the misinformation is at least as dangerous as Covid-19 pandemic. Çavuş also made recommendations regarding the evaluation of the contents. Here are five suggestions against misinformation:

  • Stay calm with the content we encounter on social media or news sites.
  • Filter what you see by thinking before sharing.
  • Run your suspicion muscles; feel free to ask “What is your source?”.
  • Search for the information that comes up with different keywords in search engines, see if the confirmation platforms are doing a review of the subject or browse the contents of trusted institutions.
  • Try social media fasting, do not consume and share any information.

Contact: Tülay Genç | [email protected] | +90 (850) 885 12 55