India world’s top source of misinformation on Covid-19: Study

New Delhi, Sept 15 (KMS): Over a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, India has emerged as the biggest source of Covid misinformation, with one in six pieces of fake information coming out of the country, a new study has found, reports Chandrima Banerjee.

The study has clarified some of the myths by saying the Covid-19 vaccine doesn’t generate magnetic properties in the human body. Lemon juice up the nose won’t kill coronavirus. Nor will keeping bundles of cloves, cardamom, camphor and mace in the pocket.

The study in Sage’s ‘International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ journal, by a researcher from the University of Alberta in Canada, went over 9,657 pieces of misinformation in 138 nations. It covered the period between January 1, 2020 to March 1, 2021. “Data used is collected from the (Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network) IFCN website, which currently has the most comprehensive Covid misinformation data collected from all over the world,” author Md Sayeed Al-Zaman told TOI.

The study found social media is the biggest producer of misinformation, accounting for 85% of it. Internet-based sources make up 91% of all Covid fake news. Among countries, India is the biggest source (18%), followed by Brazil (9%) and the USA (8.6%). The amount of misinformation is also the highest in India at 16%. “I suspect that the weak information and communication infrastructure, less (digital) information literacy and information awareness among people could be the prime reasons for higher Covid misinformation in India,” Al-Zaman said.

“Misleading information surges when a crisis first appears and reliable data isn’t readily available,” he said.