Group chats have become an essential during the pandemic. With the consistent lockdowns and the health and safety protocols in place, group chats are usually the only way for us to stay connected with our friends and family. Sometimes, group chats are also used for relaying news and information about COVID19, and there’s nothing wrong with this, since it’s a way of showing your concern for your family members. The problem is we tend to forget that not all the information found on the internet is true.
We all know that fake news has always been a problem, but it can be hard to tell what’s real and fake during times like this when we’re just collectively seeking reassurance. We all want to be safe from COVID after all, so once we see a message about a supposed cure or prevention, we tend to share it to our loved ones without a second thought. This could easily turn your family group chat into a tool to spread misinformation, so the next time you want to share any new findings about COVID to your family, be sure to keep the following in mind:
Always fact-check before sharing
Since COVID is a relatively new disease, there are seemingly new findings about it every day, which makes it easier for misinformation to spread like wildfire. So far, there are a lot of chain messages about the supposed miracle cures for COVID being circulated around group chats. Some of the advice is harmless, but there are others that involve self-diagnosing COVID or drinking unauthorized medicine, which could potentially be harmful to yourself and to your family members. This is why it’s important to take the extra step and fact-check the information. Checking the validity of a piece of news is only one Google search away. If it’s too good to be true or if it’s perpetually unheard of, then it’s not some kind of secret information that only your family is privy to; it’s most likely fake news.
Remember that your relatives likely only mean well even if they share fake news
People usually don’t share fake news on purpose, especially when it comes to health matters. If they do, then they might just be misinformed. It’s understandable, since sharing advice and having discussions among family members is a way for us to feel like we have control over such an uncertain situation, so if you see your relative sharing unverified information in the group chat, don’t accuse them of bearing ill-will. They are probably just trying to help. However, that doesn’t mean you should simply allow false information to spread, which leads us to the next point.
Don’t hesitate to point out if something is fake news
Most of the time, we just want to maintain peace in the family group chats, so family members, especially the younger ones, are hesitant to speak out against fake news. In the case of Chinoys, filial piety has taught us to always listen to our elders, so disagreeing with something shared by our relatives might be taken as a sign of disrespect. But fake news isn’t the same as advice imparted by your elders. It’s something that was taken from the internet and was passed around by unverified sources, so don’t hesitate to speak up if you think something is fake. However, be sure to maintain a polite tone and be patient with your explanations in order to not sound accusatory.
Don’t assume your family member is being disrespectful if they point out something is fake
As pointed out above, there are instances where pointing out facts can easily be mistaken for disrespect. But keep in mind that when a family member says that the news you shared is false, they are not trying to pick a fight with you. They are just trying to stop the spread of misinformation before it can lead to any harmful effects in the future. Hear them out first and fact-check the news yourself to be sure. If it’s proven to be fake, then don’t hesitate to delete it from the group chat. More importantly, don’t do it again. It won’t be the last piece of false information you will encounter online, so it’s better to be critical of everything you share in group chats rather than wait for your family members to tell you that something is fake.