Fake news kills the internet

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In addition to a lot of true news about the corona virus and rules that you should follow, there is also a lot of fake news on the topic. In the last few days, chain letters have been making the rounds, especially on Whatsapp, which spread false reports and stir up panic. We have tips for you on how to recognize fake news!

The chain letters that are sent around via WhatsApp, for example, give advice from alleged doctors and make claims that have not been proven. So it says:

"Latest information suggests that the incubation period can be up to 20 days before symptoms of COVID 19 become apparent.".

However, it is currently believed that if you become infected, it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear. According to the WHO, the incubation period is five to six days on average.

Dietary supplement against corona?

Viral YouTube video: Professor thinks Corona is not dangerous

More than 300,000 clicks has a video on YouTube in which the biologist Sucharit Bhakdi expresses his opinion on the coronavirus - namely that it does not pose an exceptional risk. The numbers he uses to prove this, however, are questionable. The ZDF has already dealt with this in a fact check and compared the figures given by Bhakdi with those of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

According to Bhakdi, the corona virus is hardly more dangerous than a flu wave. But there are factorsthat make it far more dangerous than "normal" flu. For example the lack of a vaccine or the high infection rate. Also run According to the RKI, 20 percent of all infections with the corona virus are severe - Bhakdi claims in his video that 99 percent of those who become infected have "no or mild symptoms".

Bhakdi also assumes that in the worst case scenario, one million people in Germany will be infected with the virus. According to his calculation, around 30 deaths per day should then be expected. The course of the virus in Italy or Spain speaks against it: Several hundred people die there every day. The reason given by Bhakdi for the high numbers there is also questionable. He attributes this to the high level of air pollution in (for example) northern Italy. The lungs of the people there would be pre-stressed. However, the ZDF has researched figures from the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), who speak against it. In Germany, 450 out of a million people died as a result of air pollution in 2017. In Italy 436, in Spain 289. The number of corona cases is very high in both countries. In addition, it has not been scientifically proven that the air quality has an influence on the chances of recovery from the virus.

Recognize fake news

There are simple principles that will help you identify fake news. Here are four general rules:

1. Check the facts

Use other and larger search engines to search for similar reports that could provide you with further information. You should also always pay attention to the date of publication. Old messages can reappear after a while and cause confusion.

2. Check sources

Take a closer look at the author of a message. If the fake news was published on a profile that is still relatively new and has few followers, then you should be careful. Many such profiles are created and forwarded independently by social bots (robot computer programs).

If a post is linked to a website, you could check its legitimacy by checking whether the website has an imprint. The imprint provides information about the author of a message or the operator of the website.

The following sources, for example, are considered serious when it comes to reporting on the corona virus:

These sources also have profiles and accounts in social networks, which you can also use for information!

Caution should be exercised with messages that are only presented as exclusive and only distributed via social networks, SMS or WhatsApp messages or niche portals.

3. Fact check

You can also find a large number of "fact checkers" online to help you identify fake news. These include, for example, the fact finder from Tagesschau.de, the Correctiv research collective or special sites such as mimikama.at, hoaxmap.org orafe-im-netz.de. These sites publish uncovered fake news and conduct research.

4. Review pictures and videos

Not only messages can be faked, but also pictures and videos. The images are mostly real, but they may be perceived differently in a new context. At the same time, images can change the meaning of the photo by specifically selected image sections. So look for the pictures on the net and have a look

Reviewing videos is more difficult. It is now possible to put words in people's mouths that they have never said. All you need is an original video, another person, his face while talking and a suitable computer editing program. Again, look for the video online and watch similar videos that are cut differently.

What if you discover a hoax?

The websiteafe-im-netz.de gives tips on what to do if you discover a false report or suspect it.

1. Check message

First you should check whether you can find the message in reputable news portals. That can be an indication that it is real!

2. Be careful when forwarding

You shouldn't pass reports on to friends or relatives that you don't know if they are correct. Because that can lead to scare tactics. If you forward it, write that you are not sure whether the information is correct.

3. Report content

You can report incorrect content on internet platforms such as Google or Facebook. Instructions are available at stopfake.org.

4. Notify those affected

If someone or an organization is cited in a hoax, you could bring it to their attention. Then those can react to it!

5. Protection against virus programs

In false reports, there is sometimes even more to it than that: it can contain malware. Therefore, you should not open any attachments for strange messages.