‘Break the Fake’
It happens so easily.
Fake news is spreading quicker than Nutella on toast in the Hills.
Just last week a local on Facebook claimed that unvaccinated patients were being denied healthcare at the Wakefield clinic. This is a pretty bold statement to make on a public forum: accusing the clinic of denying basic healthcare to unvaccinated patients.
This immediately set off alarm bells in the newsroom. If true, this would be an egregious infringement on the Canada Health Act, which is “to protect, promote, and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada, and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers."
All it took was a five-minute phone call to the Wakefield Family Medical Centre to prove this claim was false. Fake news.
Unvaccinated patients have the option of in-person, telephone, or online appointments at the Wakefield clinic, but those with COVID- 19 symptoms are encouraged to stay home. This is what was offered to the unvaccinated patient in question, according to the clinic. This is very different from being denied healthcare.
The problem here is that the person posting on Facebook presented the claim as a fact. Without verifying the facts, they spread this misinformation online for the world to gobble up — and gobble it up they do.
A recent study by three scholars at MIT in the U.S. found that false news stories are 70 per cent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are. According to the report, it also takes true stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people.
The UN has even declared the problem an “infodemic”. The spread of misinformation and disinformation is so prevalent that the World Health Organization has launched the Information Network for Epidemics, which “aims to debunk myths that emerge on social media and other sources.” Just last week, YouTube banned all content that spreads vaccine misinformation. It’s a global problem.
With Oct. 3-9 being National Newspaper Week, we should all reflect on how important real journalism is. It’s our duty at The Low Down to report the facts and weed out false claims. Fake news is everywhere. It’s rife on Wakefield and Chelsea Folks – social media pages on Facebook – and it’s creating a major divide between locals.
You don’t have to be a journalist to check facts. A quick 40 second YouTube video by MediaSmarts will give you all the tools you need to “Break the Fake.” Websites like Snopes.com should be bookmarked on your browser. Use the site to fact check anything you read online. FactsCan and Canada Fact Check are other legitimate sources.
When you see someone posting a controversial claim, click the link in their post to be directed to the original source. Once there, check the source on Google to see if it’s reputable. If you’re still not sure, check other reputable news sites to see if they are reporting the same information.
Fake news affects us all, and it’s everyone’s duty to “Break the Fake”.