According to a study conducted in the UK, people are using social networks such as Facebook and YouTube, to search for information about the coronavirus, more inclined to believe in conspiracy theories about the disease.
The study, conducted by Ipsos Mori for king’s College London, gives an idea about how some of the misconceptions about Covid-19 has spread and where they come from.
The study showed that 60% of those who believe that the virus is associated with the emission 5G, get information on YouTube, compared to 14% of those who believe that this belief is false.
It was also found that people using social networks to search for information about the virus, most often violate the rules of blocking.
For example, 30% of Britons polled in late may, I thought that the coronavirus was probably created in a lab, compared with 25% in the beginning of April, while 8% believed that the symptoms Covid-19 were associated with the emission 5G. A smaller number of users (7%) believe that there is no convincing evidence for the existence of coronavirus. Each of these versions were rejected by scientists.
The study showed that 60% of those who believe that the virus is associated with radiation 5G, get information on YouTube, compared to 14% of those who believe that this statement is false. Meanwhile, 56% of people who believe that there is no valid evidence for the existence of Covid-19, used Facebook to obtain your information, almost three times higher than the 20% who believe otherwise.
False beliefs, concerning, in particular, 5G, led to real consequences. Dozens of mobile towers in Europe was set ablaze, while telecommunications engineers have been harassed on the streets by people who claim that technology is somehow associated with the disease. This led to the calls of the authorities to social networks to do more to counter misinformation about the pandemic.
One of the most common opinions is that 5G, the fifth generation of the mobile Internet, weakens the immune system of people, making them vulnerable to infection. However, concerns about health in relation to wireless networks are not new, and scientists disproved the assumption that 5G is a danger to human health.
A study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal “Psychological medicine”, found a close link between the use of social media and false notions Covid-19. The results were based on three separate surveys, conducted online from 20 to 22 may, and included 2254 interviews with residents of great Britain aged 16-75 years.
The study also showed that people using social networks to search for information about the virus are more likely to violate blocking rules that were applied in order to contain it. Researchers say that 58% of those who went out with symptoms Covid-19, using YouTube as the main source of information, which is much higher than the 16% that do not. 37% of people who have had friends or relatives visit them in their home, refer to Facebook as a key source, compared with 23% of those who did not.
“This is not surprising, given that most of the information in social networks is misleading or completely wrong,” says Daniel Allington, senior lecturer in social and cultural artificial intelligence at king’s College London.
“Now, when some of the blocking rules relaxed, people will have to take more and more of their own decisions about what is safe or unsafe – it means that the access to quality information about Covid-19 will be more important than ever, it Is time to think about what actions we can take to solve this very real problem.”
Facebook and YouTube say that they remove some misinformation about the coronavirus, such as a fake treatment and the assumption that it is associated with the 5G technology. Both platforms are also working with health authorities such as the world health organization and the national health service of great Britain, to display accurate information about the virus.
The representative of Facebook said: “We have removed hundreds of thousands of references of misinformation associated with Covid-19, which can lead to inevitable harm, including reports of false cures, stating that the measures of social distancing are not working, and what 5G is causing coronavirus”.
A representative of YouTube stated: “We strive to provide timely and useful information about Covid-19 in this critical time, including the increase in authoritative content, reducing the spread of harmful disinformation and display dashboards using data from the who for assistance in combating the disinformation,” said a spokesman for YouTube.