The present COVID19 crisis is amplifying the danger of disinformation / misinformation and fake news. Of course the scourge of fake news and conspiracies isn’t new. It’s just that it gets amplified in times like the one we’re living in.

the power of (fake) news

A few decades ago we believed what we heard on radio, saw on TV and read in the newspapers. Well, I guess this is how some of the most horrendous things in history were done.

By, what was called mass media, the worldview of generations was shaped. Millions lived and or died. In history, fake news, disinformation / misinformation was known by a more sophisticated word: propaganda.

Its power is evident in history. Hatred cultivated and nurtured against ‘the other’. In some cases not just xenophobia, racism but even murder and genocide.

One of the dangers of our wide-open media culture of the last ten years has been that the signals aren’t getting through the noise.

Loud voices are drowning out useful ones. It’s difficult to determine, sometimes, who is accurately collating and correlating experience and reality and who is simply making stuff up as a way to distract us, to cause confusion and to gain influence.

Seth Godin

What we constantly consume and believe has profound influence on what we believe about the world. It informs how we live our lives. In some instances it also determines how we shape other lives. Think of leaders, and parents with influence on other people.

One danger of disinformation: You could have people invest time and other resources to methods that don’t work. And those could be invaluable resources which could be used to find the right / effective solutions.

our responsibility.

We can’t believe everything because we heard or read it. The forwarded WhatsApp voice note from a nurse someone knows can’t be taken at face value.

Everyone with a device connected to the Internet is both a part of the problem and the solution.

studies. polls.

We need to redefine what studies are & review how we validate a lot of polling data. We need to challenge and critique each other’s assertions.

“ ‘Studies’ or ‘polls’ show…” now need to be held to greater critique. Anyone can create a poll and self-reference from their echo-chamber / bubble. 

I know this ☝🏽 statement highlights another problem: trolls. Because we’re all right, right? And, it doesn’t help when even the ‘experts’ arrive at different conclusions with the same data. 🤷🏽‍♂️

Wherever and as much as it is possible possible, and wherever proven we must highlight truth. But how do we arrive at that?

humility.

In the words of Kendrick, “Be humble…” We all need humility. We need our best arguments, theories, (version of) facts challenged by the contrary. And we have to allow others to challenge us and the opposite.

Otherwise how can we test how correct we are? Let’s search for truth without trying to confirm our own bias or preferences. And some empathy will also go a long way. Maybe, just maybe then we have a chance.

Anyways, I’m rambling…

COVID-19 Disinformation In Africa.

I came across the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), in partnership with Code for Africa webinar while I was thinking about the damage disinformation was inflicting.

I started writing this post with the intention of sharing this webinar with you then I got sidetracked. Anyways…

Shout out to the moderators and an excellent panel.

outro.

The danger of disinformation is one we can’t ignore. We need to be vigilant. Anyone can create website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account.

With these tools and enough imagination, any idiot, can create a conspiracy and another can easily believe and reshare it. That idiot could be me. The question is, do I always have the humility to search for truth.

Do you really trust yourself and everything you read, watch or listen to? Anyways… 🤷🏽‍♂️

Published by Blessing Mpofu

just a guy changing the world

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