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The Fact-Checker: July 20, 2020

Could our fight against infodemic be a Battle of Attrition?

It’s been over four months since the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Lagos. Since then, a ceaseless flow of falsehoods which the WHO termed an “infodemic” has hit the motherland. It was, therefore, no surprise when the previous acting-Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, attributed the novel virus to be a function of corruption. While the assertion is baseless and illogical, it underscores the discordant nature of misinformation around the subject of infodemic. 

Relatedly, Dubawa embarked on dousing the fires of misinformation left by bad-actors. It was a team effort too by a coalition of fact-checkers led by the International Fact-checking Network. Subsequently, we noted how common trends shaped misinformation around the pandemic. While we initially noted four strains of the infodemic, a fifth one- conspiracy theories– was gaining traction fast. Two subjects that featured heavily in this category were billionaire philanthropist, Bill Gates and the 5G technology

Face masks were yet another subject of concern ranging in themes from characterising masks as useful to unnecessary, or redundant, to name a few. Although the confusion around the matter was in part due to ever-changing information from authorities, these variations became commonplace during the pandemic. And while the approach of health authorities is inherently good, could it also contribute to the infodemic? This question concerning “truth”, ethics, and the relevance of information remains a topic of debate in journalism. Are we all the cause of our problems? Is fact-checking adequately combatting the information disorder or just keeping score?

At a time like this, this question is crucial, especially that there are still some online commentators and others at the grassroots across communities who still question the existence of the coronavirus. It poses the question of whether misinformation is endemic to the extent that people ultimately believe what they want. Or is there a missing key?

“Rome was not built in a day.”

In truth, fact-checking is a rather new enterprise that is still evolving.  Platforms are faced with this reality as they forecast the relevance and sustainability of fact-checking in the coming years. The seventh annual Global Fact Conference tackled similar conversations. And while these concerns and questions remain, there are truths to be gleaned from them. First, we established that it is a relatively new endeavour, especially in these parts of the world. Secondly, swaying public opinions is going to be a long and arduous process of change.  But fact-checkers have to stay the course to promote truth over falsehood.  Just as law enforcement agents need to keep fighting crime,  so would fact-checkers have to remain resolute and resilient with the job of fact-checking.

Coronavirus Q & A

Which country has the highest number of cases in Africa?

According to the World Health Organization African Region Dashboard, South Africa is the African country with the most cases. The nation as at July  19 had 337,594 confirmed cases from which 154,607 were active with 4,804 fatalities.

Can Mosquito bites spread Covid-19?

As published on the World Health Organization’s website, COVID-19 spreads through small droplets released from the nose and mouth of infected people. These droplets, when emitted, drop to settle on surfaces and are viable to infect anyone that comes in contact with them. However,  there have also been discussions around the possibility of airborne transmission of covid-19. In essence, the droplets can remain viable in the air and can infect anyone who breathes them in.  

For Mosquito Bites, the WHO has identified it as a myth.  

Tip of the week

#FakeNews Alert 

Explosion Rocks Katsina, Six Die – SOURCE: OnlineBlog (GlobalExcellence)

This report is a sensitive one and should not be shared further without proper verification. Be sure to check credible platforms for more information and comments from the right authorities. 

Pregnant Woman Beaten To Death In Ebonyi – SOURCE

Always remember to detach your emotions from news reports as emotions could lead to wrong judgements. Be sure you get your facts right before disseminating further.

US, UK, Canada accuse Russia of COVID-19 vaccine hacking – SOURCE; OnlinBlog (NEWSEXTRA) First COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Promising Results – Researchers – SOURCE: OnlineBlog (The DrumOnline)

There has been an influx of reports on vaccines. As a media-literate person, what you need to do is keep an open mind. Identify the source of your information to determine its credibility. The right source of information when vaccines are concerned is still the World Health Organization. The body has announced that research is still on-going for the discovery of a vaccine and its website will be updated once there’s new information. 

COVID-19: More Than 7,000 South African Police Officers Contract Virus – SOURCE: OnlineBlog (DrumOnline)

Ask yourself, who is the source? Where did he/she get this information? 

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