The effects of misinformation on social media during a pandemic

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Social media has played a big role during this pandemic and it can sometimes be misleading.

We are now more than a year and a half into the pandemic and social media is filled with both facts and rumors.

Some of the rumors such as the virus is a hoax, to another rumor making the rounds, that there is a microchip in the vaccine, to the most recent rumor, people thinking a horse dewormer will cure you of COVID.

Communications professor Emma Frances Bloomfield of UNLV says it all starts with a simple rumor going viral, making many believe it and that’s where it can become dangerous.

“The idea that horse dewormer reduces inflammation that’s true and why people use it in their horses people will think be useful for humans too and extrapolate that.. that’s where the problem is like a kernel or a nugget of a truth but the way people spin it can be dangerous,” adds Bloomfield.

She also says the big problem is that social media platforms are used by both credible and non-credible sources which can be confusing.

Bloomfield goes on to add that catchy headlines can also grab one’s attention quickly, but a rule of thumb is to be sure and verify the information you are reading.

She also says social media hasn’t all been negative during this pandemic.

Bloomfield says an example of positive social media influence was when many initially received the vaccination, a new trend started online, by sharing pictures of the vaccine being administered or social media users posting proof of a vaccination card.

Those examples, she says, are a good way to share positive messages in this social media era.

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