Fake news and misinformation is a huge challenge to the global fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. Those with a greater public influence then, have to be more responsible and careful about what information they are backing. While for the most part they are, they are human too. 'To err is human', after all.
Amitabh Bachchan has become the unwitting source of fake news for the second time in the span of a week. When the world is fighting a global pandemic, the well-respected actor has shared information on social media that was met with criticism from authorities. It seems his information is doing more harm than good.
Amitabh Bachchan's tidbit on Coronavirus which turned out to be fake news
Twitter is an effective social media platform to express views and information. Especially in a pandemic where human contact is limited, it's often the only mode of access to civilisation. Bollywood celebrities have been very active in dissemination government circulars, instructions, public announcements and lending support to the cause of containing the Coronavirus.
While the effort is commendable. Amitabh Bachchan has now been found twice supporting and amplifying news that might not be all true. The problem and concern with supporting fake news especially when you are a public figure, you are effectively adding elements of fear and confusion to the chaos. This can make health professionals' work a lot harder.
With the best intentions, Amitabh Bachchan shared a tweet T-3481 the other day citing The Lancet as the source of the inaccurate study. He said that research suggested that the Coronavirus lasts much longer in human excreta than on respiratory samples and that the virus can be transmitted through flies which come in contact with the excreta.
T 3481 – A study in the @TheLancet shows that coronavirus lingers on human excreta much longer than in respiratory samples.
Come on India, we are going to fight this!
Use your toilet: हर कोई, हर रोज़, हमेशा । Darwaza Band toh Beemari Band! @swachhbharat @narendramodi @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/VSMUHdjXKG
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) March 25, 2020
His intentions may have been right, urging the public to avoid defecating in the open. The actor also shared a video in which he said, "Today, I want to discuss something really important with you. Our country is fighting coronavirus and you have to play an important role in this fight. Do you know that in a recent study, experts in China have found that coronavirus can survive in human excreta for many weeks? Even if somebody recovers from the disease, the virus can survive in his excreta. If a fly sits on that excreta and then sits on vegetables and fruits or eatables, this disease can spread further."
Amitabh Bachchan shut down not once, but twice
Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Health put an end to the rumour by saying the infectious disease does not spread through flies. Although he hadn't read the tweet, he said that the information was in fact, wrong.
Earlier, Amitabh Bachchan had spoken about the Janta curfew announcement and had posted about how vibrations, blowing the conch, etc. would reduce the effect of the Coronavirus on the Amavasya day or the day of the full moon. This too happened to be proven false. The senior actor has since deleted both controversial tweets from his social media, but the damage has been done.