Allowing such misinformation to spread unabated can lead to dangerous consequences
If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, apart from the growing need for Bangladesh to invest heavily in its health care sector, it is that people’s fears and doubts pave the way for social media to spread misinformation.
While it may seem harmless, allowing such misinformation to spread unabated can lead to dangerous consequences, especially in times of crisis as we find ourselves in now, with false remedies and conspiracy theories taking root, creating doubt and division where there are none.
However, as has been suggested before, a recent study conducted by researchers at New York University has found that Facebook’s algorithm, for example, fuels the spread of misinformation, much more so than what is being reported by trusted sources.
According to the researchers, despite efforts to mitigate the spread of misinformation, with Facebook itself claiming to have 80 fact-checking partners which work to label and reduce the distribution of false information, misleading and inflammatory content is boosted at a rate much higher than trustworthy content, leading to conspiracy theory posts regarding vaccines going viral, among others related to Covid-19.
Though the study focused primarily on US users, Bangladesh itself has seen its fair share of misinformation during the pandemic, and it is imperative that we continue to raise awareness regarding the pandemic, its treatments, and its vaccines.
At no point should this be used as a reason to crack down on free speech, however, with the Digital Security Act rearing its ugly head -- what we should focus on is educating people on how to differentiate between trustworthy sources and propaganda outlets, and to fact-check information through an awareness of the media landscape in this age of social media.