Coronavirus: in Asia, the false information feed into the confusion

Coronavirus: en Asie, les fausses informations alimentent la confusion

HONG KONG | In some Asian countries, a deluge of false information and hoaxes on the new coronavirus has invaded the internet, fueling the fear and confusion.

Since the establishment in the region, in February, of the first measures to combat the outbreak, the AFP has identified more than 150 false information on the containment.

The motives of the persons at the origin of this overabundance of such information misleading: the desire to discredit the governments, exacerbating the various religious or simple prank.

However, in all cases, the result is the same: misinformation is shared as widely as an established fact.

In the Philippines, in April, a video shared on Facebook and seen by tens of thousands of people showed a man being shot for having ignored a checkpoint set up in the framework of the coronavirus. In reality, it was a training exercise for the police.

Some people, outraged by these images, have challenged this alleged use of force by the police, long accused of violating Human rights in the war led by president Rodrigo Duterte against drugs.

Conversely, those who support this policy carried out against the traffickers and to the origin of thousands of the dead have welcomed the action of the forces of order against this man, “narrow-minded”.

Other false information have circulated in the Philippines, including an extension of the containment, or of anti-government protesters who have allegedly violated the prohibition of the gathering.

In Thailand, a video view hundreds of thousands of times to show customers, in a panic, jostling to make their provisions in Malaysia after the implementation of containment is strict. In their comments, the users of Facebook are worried that such scenes occur in Thailand.

In reality, the footage had been filmed in Brazil in November 2019 on Black Friday, a day of balances.

The misinformation “had fueled a lot of uncertainty and anxiety within the population,” says Yvonne Chua, associate professor of journalism at the University of the Philippines.

“People are looking for the answers”

For Axel Bruns, who teaches media studies at the university of technology in Queensland, Australia, the confusion over the internet has been greatest in countries where governments have poorly communicated on the containment.

In Thailand, where constraint measures were imposed in march, the anxiety has spread with messages of deceptive claiming that the non-mask-wearing was liable to a fine of 200 thai baht (8,65 $).

This rumor spread quickly on Facebook, Twitter and e-mail Line, forcing thai police to deny at a press briefing.

But less than a month later, some provinces have announced the fines much heavier for people without a mask, fueling the confusion.

In India, the misinformation spread when the containment of all the countries has been imposed in march.

Among the misleading messages that have circulated in the figure of defamation, policy, rumors about the containment is strict, as well as rumors intended to stir up religious tensions.

The videography of an attack with an axe, a view of the tens of thousands of times via fake messages on Facebook and Twitter, said that he was muslim extremist killing of a hindu during the confinement.

In reality, it was an attack in Pakistan.

While some users of social networks have seen that this sequence came from abroad, others have been duped, saying that it was proof that India was in need of a “regime military”.

Mr. Brown believes that this avalanche of misleading information is in part due to the inability of governments to reassure properly their citizens.

“The circulation of misinformation is increased during such periods, because people are desperately seeking answers to their questions about what is happening, why and what they can do to protect themselves,” said Mr. Brown.

“If they do not find satisfactory answers from the authorities, they will start to look elsewhere.”

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