The experts have urged people not believe or share information that is not verified by reliable sources
As the number of coronavirus cases is on the rise in Bangladesh, so is the amount of misinformation, making things all the more difficult for all concerned to contain both the pandemic and infodemic, experts have said.
When rumours, speculations, and misinformation flood the internet, the mainstream media struggle to counter those with authentic information, the experts further commented.
Several media experts suggested that journalists be meticulous about any information related to coronavirus and properly verify the information from authentic sources.
They also urged people not to believe and share information, photos and videos that are not verified by relevant authorities or credible media outlets, UNB reports.
On Wedensday, the government issued a press statement urging people not to pay heed to any rumour.
It said misleading ideas and rumours are being circulated about the unrealistic reasons of the spread of coronavirus and the ways to prevent it.
The statement further said rumours were being circulated that police would pick up those who get cold or fever.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Prime Minister's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim said: "A rumour regarding waiving house rent, postponing bank loan and electricity bill for three months and a one-month holiday in all offices is being made viral through Facebook. These are completely false and fabricated information."
Speaking to UNB, former Dhaka University vice chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique, who is also a teacher in the university’s department of mass communication and journalism, said the mainstream media must play a very responsible role in the current critical situation.
“They will have to give authentic information through checking and cross-checking. They should also counter the rumours and misinformation circulated on social media with accurate information.”
He further said: “The government can strongly monitor the social media and give people the right information from the Ministry of Information in countering the false information.”
Prof Golam Rahman, former chief information commissioner, said most of those spreading false information and rumours about the virus on social media platforms simply lack awareness and media literacy. "But some people spread false information on the social media with bad intentions. This is dangerous and it has to be checked."
He said the government and the mainstream media should carry out a strong campaign to make people understand the difference between facts and rumours.
The Daily Observer Editor Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury said one of the main responsibilities of the media is to provide people with information from verified sources, and there is no scope for compromise with the authenticity of information.
He said the mainstream media may make some mistakes in providing authentic information, in most cases unintentionally, but it is also true that when people in all other sectors and professions, except doctors and law enforcement personnel, are enjoying public holidays staying at home, journalists are working hard and gathering information, taking risks amid the virtual lockdown. "The government should evaluate it."
About social media, Iqbal Sobhan said such media has no accountability as people express their personal opinion there without thinking of its consequences.
"People have the right to use the social media and express their opinions, but they have no right to spread rumours or mislead people with any ulterior motive. Spreading false and fake information with evil intention is a crime, and the government has the law to deal with such a crime.”