The spread of rumours and misinformation on social media is getting increased rapidly along with the usage of smartphones and the internet in India. Since the Covid pandemic, several fake news and misinformation dominates social media.
Misinformation like medicine for Covid prepared with lemon, cloves and other such ingredients, the human body possesses magnetic properties post-vaccination, lemon drops squeezed in nose cures covid were circulated widely on social media. There were incidents where people trusted and tried the covid misinformation and ended up dying.
The study in Sage’s ‘International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ journal submitted a report “Prevalence and source analysis of Covid-19 misinformation of 138 countries”.
The report says that India tops the list of countries that share covid related misinformation on social media.
This study analysed 9,657 pieces of misinformation that originated in 138 countries that were fact-checked by 94 organisations. The findings show that India shared the most misinformation related to covid (15.94%). An increase in internet navigation rate, social media usage, lack of internet knowledge and education among people in a country are listed as reasons behind the misinformation spread on a larger level.
The US follows India with 9.74%, Brazil with 8.57% and Spain with 8.03% in the most misinformation affected countries.
Social media produce the highest amount of misinformation (84.94%) responsible for most of the Covid-19 misinformation, particularly the internet (90.5%) plays a major role in it. Facebook alone produces 66.87% misinformation, among all social media platforms.
It is also mentioned that the spread of misinformation may increase further in 2021 though the peak was in March 2020.
Internet Usage in India
“As per ‘ICUBE 2020’ report by IAMAI and Kantar, 13% of the rural Indian population that is 299 million are active internet users. Internet usage in India continues to grow rapidly. The number of active rural internet users would exceed the number of urban internet users by 2025”, reported First Post article.
Even though the increase in usage of social media is a reason for India to be the first among the countries that spread misinformation on Covid, we cannot deny the fact that taking time to think and understand if everything shared on social media is true or not, and lack of internet knowledge are also the major reasons.