Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a lot of information flowing in from different directions. People have been trying to get a grasp on what they are truly up against and what they can do to fight this unknown threat. Naturally many have been searching for this information through social media which has become a significant part of people’s lives. From Facebook to Twitter to Youtube, people have been clicking on one post after another to try and disseminate facts from fiction. This has proven to be a much harder task than people initially thought as the amount of factual information that is known about COVID-19 is minimal and can only truly be given by a few sources.
On Twitter, a lot of posts have been focused around at-home remedies and things that you can do to prevent COVID-19. These posts while trying to help, also have no true ground to stand on. Many posts recently have been referring to colloidal silver as a cure-all for COVID-19. They suggest that colloidal silver is shown to kill the virus and other mutations of the virus outright and should be used as a reasonable treatment for COVID-19. These tweets are far-reaching and people using the hashtag #colloidalsilver seem to be spreading.
You would start to think these people were on to something, but a quick google search comes up with the Mayo Clinics stance on the subject. The very first line of an article on the product states, “Colloidal silver isn’t considered safe or effective for any of the health claims manufacturers make.”(Bauer). They want to be upfront with how much of a hoax the product is. It can even have adverse effects with them going on to say, “It’s not clear how much colloidal silver may be harmful, but it can build up in your body’s tissues over months or years. Most commonly, this results in argyria (ahr-JIR-e-uh), a blue-gray discoloration of your skin, eyes, internal organs, nails, and gums.”(Bauer). So with Twitter spreading disinformation related to supposed cure-alls, it becomes harder to trust what you may be seeing on social media.
A YouTube video went viral in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis that has a county commissioner suggesting that if you blow-dry your nasal passages it will kill off the virus. These videos and untested products rotate through all social media platforms reaching thousands of people who may take them at face value and cause harm to themselves.
Social Media companies have been forced to take action to combat the spread of misinformation with Facebook taking the most outspoken step, “It relies on third-party fact-checkers and health authorities flagging problematic content, and removes posts that fail the tests. It also blocks or restricts hashtags that spread misinformation on its sister platform, Instagram.”(Chakravorti). With Twitter and YouTube though, “neither company has a transparent blocking policy founded on solid fact-checking.” showing that they are still most likely figuring out how to combat the issue (Chakravorti). Suffice to say social media is a hard place to find any real trusted news on the subject of COVID-19.
However, there are still a few places you can turn to. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has a twitter account that they use to help spread factual data on COVID-19 and a very reliable source on COVID-19. Another solid source would be the World Health Organizations twitter account where they also spread factual data and news on COVID-19.
Social Media is a great place to get your ideas about your hobbies and passions to the world. But, the negative side of this is that it is also a place for people to spread their knowledge of subjects they know nothing about. So be careful when scrolling through your feed and make sure not to trust everything you may read from uncredited sources.
Co-written and Edited by:
Watch Ryan Martin’s video here on social distancing and his experience with the quarantine.
Brent A. Bauer, M. (2017, September 06). The truth about colloidal silver. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/colloidal-silver/faq-20058061
Chakravorti, B. (2020, April 02). Social media companies are taking steps to tamp down coronavirus misinformation – but they can do more. Retrieved April 09, 2020, from https://theconversation.com/social-media-companies-are-taking-steps-to-tamp-down-coronavirus-misinformation-but-they-can-do-more-133335
Jon-Patrick Allem Assistant Professor of Research. (2020, April 06). Social media fuels wave of coronavirus misinformation as users focus on popularity, not accuracy. Retrieved April 09, 2020, from https://theconversation.com/social-media-fuels-wave-of-coronavirus-misinformation-as-users-focus-on-popularity-not-accuracy-135179