Misinformation on social media is a “virus” that needs to be checked, says VP Venkaiah Naidu

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on April 06, 2020

VP Venkaiah Naidu   -  PTI

The spread of misinformation, especially on social media is a “virus” that needs to be checked, the Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu said on Monday.

Vice President in a Facebook post, detailing India’s fight against the global coronavirus pandemic, said that the spread of misinformation across social media is “weakening our battle” against Covid-19.

“The war on the virus cannot be won if we have an inadequate or faulty understanding of the magnitude of the problem,” reads an official statement from the Vice President's Secretariat.

Stakeholders including government authorities have made multiple attempts to curb the spread of misinformation across platforms. The World Health Organization, as well as the government of India’s Press Information Bureau, have released official helpline numbers for Facebook’s messaging platform WhatsApp in a bid to curb misinformation and educated users.

Furthermore, earlier in March, tech giants, Facebook, Reddit, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube had also issued a joint industry statement on how the companies were combating the global coronavirus pandemic.

“We are working closely together on Covid-19 response efforts. We are helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combatting fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world. We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe,” the companies had said in a joint public statement.

Avoid generalizations and communal bias

Vice President also shared his views on how social distancing guidelines had been flouted in certain parts of the State and how such instances should not lead to generalizations and bias towards particular communities.

“There has to be a greater awareness of the urgency and the scientific evidence about the spread of the virus necessitating a total societal response cutting across caste, creed, class, language, regions and religions,” he said.

He also emphasized that the respect and concern for the safety of the front-line workers, especially the medical professionals was essential in the fight against Co-19, condemning the recent violence reported against medical workers.

The Vice President, however, urged the citizens to steer clear of “untenable generalisations about communities and not viewing events from the prism of prejudices and biases.”

He also detailed the measures taken by the government and various authorities across the nation to combat the virus including the ramping up its “humanitarian work” to assist the “poor and migrant labour. “

“We have to be ever vigilant and fight this menace together. Unity of thought and action and solidarity with all the brave warriors is the need of the hour,” he said.

Published on April 06, 2020

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