Debunking CoVid-19 myths and hoaxes
Jordan I have a test for you. Oh Yeah what is it? I heard if you think that you might have current of virus you should take a deep breath it for ten seconds and if you can do that without coughing for ten seconds really yeah all right. I'M GONNA try it all right all time. You okay. One two three four five six seven eight nine ten. That's it that is it. Apparently you don't have the current virus. Perfect that's nice to hear. I can't be a real test though. No it's definitely not it's just another hoax floating around the Internet. I've seen a ton of those. Yeah what kind of stuff have you seen? Well I I heard that If I already had a cold in January and February which I did that I probably already had covert nineteen and I'm probably okay. I also heard that five G. technology is to blame that. They're looking into that link and I heard some stuff about silver or essential oils or vitamins. That I can take and it would just kill this virus dead. A lot of that is going around. Yeah I heard to the grocery store actually talking about how they were cutting up garlic every day and just eating that thinking that they wouldn't get the current. Oh virus if they did that. Just garlic just garlic. I also heard of course that a hairdryer can get hot enough to kill the virus and so all I gotta do is fire that up and I'll be right and the mother of all of them. I think that's been going around. That is kind of in a gray area. I'm not sure is that this virus will just be gone or at least almost gone when the warm weather comes. That would be nice. Yeah I'M NOT GONNA count on it but we're GONNA get into all of the hoaxes and misinformation around Kovic nineteen on the show today but first as we do now because this is a breaking story. Claire Give us a brief update on what's happening in Canada today so we are expecting a huge announcement from the federal government reportedly twenty five billion dollars to help Canadians and businesses. Get through. This time were also expected to get an announcement by the end of the week. About changes to upcoming tax deadlines potentially giving Canadians more flexibility to make tax payments a number of provinces have declared a state of emergency including Ontario Alberta and Prince Edward Island the number of cases of cove nineteen in. Canada is now at four hundred twenty. Four Ontario has reported its first deaths British Columbia reporting three more and that brings the nationwide total to eight as for new closures. Uber is suspending Uberpool. You can still use all other uber. Trips UBER eats is still available Cineplex's closing all theaters across the country until April second and CIBC says it is closing two hundred and six of its locations across the country as well as modifying hours of operation. You can find out which ones are open which ones are closed on their website. When we're glued to our social media feeds with all of this news and it's coming a million miles a minute and nobody seems to have any easy answers or any explanations. It's not a surprise that were eager to seize on one when we do see it. There's a reason we did that. Test off the top and I have to confess that when I first saw it I really did do it and I felt better for like ten minutes. I'm not naive. I'm supposed to be a journalist but I'd seen it on some official public health looking letterhead. It felt really good to think for a second that there was something that I could do right now to make sure that I didn't have covert nineteen. I realized almost immediately. Of course that it wasn't real but that quick feeling of relief a feeling like I understood something. In a completely chaotic situation it was powerful. And all these things take to spread is a little bit of panic that feeling of relief the best of intentions and a quick share and then it's impossible to put them back in the bottle and it's a fight that we can't win of course that doesn't mean there aren't people in the thick of the fray anyway doing their damnedest to make sure that you and I don't fall for things that might make sense right now. Might feel good but could cost us all in the long run. I'm Jordan Heath Rawlings. This is the big story Jane. Davidenko is the senior. Disinformation reporter at Buzzfeed News. She is extremely busy right now. Very very busy. Last time we talked to you. We talked about how you debunk. This kind of stuff in general. How has that changed in a situation? Like this where there's only one story so there's only one story but there is pretty much an infinite amount of misinformation going around right now Last time we chatted we were monitoring misinformation that was mostly targeted at China and now the misinformation targets people here in North America and seems to be causing quite a bit of panic. Are People more vulnerable to this stuff? in a crisis like this. So here's what we already know about. Misinformation it really plays towards a feelings of anxiety or anger or panic. That people may already have. This has been true since disinformation has become a thing And during a crisis like the krona virus people are already very very stressed out very anxious. And there's a big information vacuum That information vacuum is very quickly being filled with hoax says misinformation. Disinformation false cures. You name it. What kinds of stuff were you seeing? As the story I started to emerge so in the story I started to emerge the research of two big themes that we saw The first one was that The krona virus was a bio up in that was a falsehood that was spread by people who were financially or politically motivated for that narrative to take hold It is not true What we know is that it started at a market in in Hunt China The second thing that we saw were many many videos of people getting sick either fainting or just laying on the ground and those videos We just could not verify which is did not know what was happening at the time and we didn't have enough context for the images and the videos that were coming out of China and how of these stories changed as the situation has evolved. You mentioned they've kind of moved location. But how does disinformation evolve? I guess to adapt to the news that we're getting now. People in North America are not watching the situation on full unfold. Sort of At arm's length Now they're experiencing it themselves and so now the missing that we see is targeted at the people who are scared who may be experiencing at or are fearful of experiencing it so this means Mass text messages being sent out of falsely telling people that cities are GonNa get shut down including public transit and roads This means false cures and snake. Oil cures or Sort of just very bad health advice. That's going around That is a lot of what we're seeing now really targeted at the population. Are you trying to tell me that? Just because at the top of this podcast I could take a breath and hold it for ten seconds. That doesn't mean I'm safe log. Some of these false curious do seem outlandish but at a time of panic. Especially if you're somebody who Is not very well versed and Medicinal Sciences? Or Somebody. Who is very panicked? Somebody who doesn't have access to To health information you might serve. Try these cures as a as an attempt to prevent it from getting to you I'm not lying. I actually fell for that one. I figured why not. It can't hurt to know that I can still breathe deep breathing. Deep is very important in a panic but it will not help. Prevent the spread of Corona virus. Are you seeing hoaxes? In scams that are unique to this particular virus or to disease or is this just kind of the case of the people who do these things adapting their usual technique for new content. It's a little bit of both I honestly can tell you that I haven't seen this volume of misinformation and my three years of covering the beets So what we have is sort of existing players who have been spreading misinformation and we have people who have entered the field but most of all we have people sharing this stuff with each other. We're not going to be able to know the source of this stuff until we have a moment to take a step back and really analyze all the data that we've been gathering over the last little while but what we do know. Is that people in a panic. Have been sending this stuff to one another And that is sort of something that we all can do to help. Stop spreading it. How do you handle the volume? Do you kind of divvy it up into categories. Do you just try to rapid fire as they come in Do you try to have an overarching plan. That gets the right information out there. Saw for me. There's two very important things. One is to keep an eye on the real news real authorities have the CBC or news channels on at all times And really important for me to sort of understand the latest developments because the situation is changing hour by hour But the second important thing is for people to keep sending me hoaxes that they see because a lot of this is based on group chats and facebook groups. I don't always have access to To the misinformation that people might be seeing so essentially I am asking people to crowd source any misinformation that they might have come across and then I sort of If I've already debunked it then I'm able to send them back what we found. And if I then I added on to our running list of debunks how do you handle the gray area? 'cause I've seen a lot of this And Claire mentioned when we were recording the intro that she's heard people in the grocery store you know talking about well. I'm just going to eat a crap ton of garlic and that will help keep me safe now eating garlic's not bad for you. It's good for you but it's not going to help with this virus and I'm seeing a lot of information in that area where it's not kind of easily proven false but kind of gives people false hope if that makes sense. Yeah look it's we're at a point in time where okay to just say. We don't know we rely on the World Health Organization the CDC health authorities here in Canada to sort of keep us up to date with what they do and don't know in terms of healthcare's The World Health Organization has Been Very very good at tackling. Those false cures and that false hope. I think right now. It's really important to understand that with things like eating a lot of garlic or taking a lot of vitamin C. It's important to not overdo it. It's good to keep a healthy immune system. It's good to eat healthy. It's got exercise if you can. It's good to get some rest But none of that is gonNa Stop Corona virus from spreading And I think the important thing here is to remember how the virus functions which is that it can be passed on from person to person. Even if one of the people is a symptomatic so with health yours like eating garlic or eating lemons You can boost your immune system with the good food that you're might be making yourself while in isolation but that does nothing to change the external conditions. Ah that the virus relies upon to spread. I wanted to ask you about the people who are behind this and what their motives are. Do we know anything about that? Is it about profiting off of this? Is it about just spreading fear and chaos to have any idea? What's behind all the hoaxes luck? Right now we have very little idea of wear the hoaxes are coming from. We do know that hackers and bad actors online are targeting people in vast numbers cybersecurity researchers that I spoke with say that this is the highest volume or getting to be the highest volume of cyberattacks that they have ever tracked and it's very similar with misinformation. It's really difficult for us to attribute where it's coming from but like I mentioned earlier. What we do know is that once. A piece of miss or disinformation is online. The way it's spreads is organically which means it spreads by your friend saying hey I saw this thing online or your parents or grandparents saying hey. I saw this. I'm passing it on and that is the thing that we should be worried about right now. Making sure that the people around us are getting good. Information are spreading good information our social media platforms doing anything differently they are social media platforms are working with local. Governments to try to mitigate How much misinformation and disinformation spread on their platforms From what I've seen they've been removing things fairly quickly but of course not quickly enough It is still spreading. And it's important to note that over the last three years or so social media companies facebook. Google twitter have been under fire from activists lawmakers journalists for not doing enough to curb the spread of misinformation on their platforms and saw as a result they might not have a big robust infrastructure to target something that is this widespread globally and it is important to remember that this is global so while these companies primarily operate in English speaking countries in countries where the majority of the population doesn't speak English. Those hoaxes are still spreading and the fact checkers Might not have as much experience in those languages might not Have as robust of an infrastructure to tackle these hoaxes as we do in the English speaking world. What happens when some of the wrong information is coming from supposedly reliable sources? I guess I'm talking about Donald trump but he's not alone. There have been other officials sharing incorrect information. How do you deal with that? Yeah like it's a really difficult question in terms of what the authorities are telling us but this is the case were we should rely on medical health professionals as much as possible. Many of them have been on facebook on twitter on youtube trying to spread a good information. The health is the authorities like the world. Health Association has been proactively holding briefings and updating their website with any hoaxes that may be going around The positive side of this is that Be 'cause this is such a global Such a global pandemic there are reporters medical professionals authorities. Were trying to get good information out there. The best we can do is try to find those sources at hope that if they do spread Something that is false. They will correct because these organizations have a duty to correct their information. Before we let you go. Can we play some really rapid fire debunking with some of the most common ones that we've been seeing out there? Let's do it okay if I had a really bad cold in January zero chance that I had this already and I'm done with it maybe These symptoms are flu Coughing sort of exhaustion. If those are symptoms that you've had it's not impossible that you may have had this however there have been some cases of people who've had the illness testing positive for it again and it's very possible that even if you've had the illness you might still infect people around you so the best health advice that there is is to stay home stay isolated And try not to keep spreading it further. This virus will be gone when the warm weather comes or at least it'll almost vanish False absolutely no evidence for that advil in Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatories can exacerbate the risk of me getting cove in nineteen. This is a tricky one But so far there have been no pure reviewed academic studies that show that this is true. I can use a hairdryer to kill this thing. Nope it began with the onset of five g technology. And we're looking at a link absolutely not I can protect myself with silver and essential oils and vitamins and teas. Absolutely not and you. Us authorities have been cracking down on anybody that says you can. What should someone do if they see something online that they're worried a total hoax and it's being passed around in their facebook group? How can they get it to you so you can debunk it? First of all reported to the social media network second of all Google the information to make sure that it is false And maybe drop. The debunk in the conversation. And if it hasn't been debunked already please get in touch with me. I'm on twitter. My handle is Jane which is just Shea. An E. L. Y. TV You will also find my email on there. My last name is thirteen letters. Long Not GonNA spell it for you but please send information that may not have been debunked already straight to me and I will do my best to bunker. Thanks so much for taking the time out of your insane day to help us a little bit. All right thanks for having me Jane. La- Davidenko is the senior. Disinformation reporter at Buzzfeed News. And she's at home working there. I'm at home in my basement. Clair's in her closet. You're probably at home too late. You were doing our best to stay healthy and stay sane and we want to hear from you. We want to know what your world sounds like. If you're staying home what are you doing to pass the time? Are you binging everything on net flicks? Are you exercising for the first time in a while? Are you learning a new language Kudos to you if you are? That's a big one. Let us know record a thirty second. Clip yourself just use the voice recorder on your phone or even just take video. We'll just use the sound and you can email it to the big story podcast. That's all one word at our C. I. Dot ROGERS DOT COM or putting together. A compilation of what lockdown sounds like for us and our listeners. We may be physically apart during all of us. But we're all in it together. Thank you for listening. Stay healthy stay safe. I'm Jordan Heath Rawlings. We'll talk tomorrow.