BAGHDAD: Browse through Arabic-language social media pages and you could walk away thinking Covid-19 is an American hoax, isn’t deadly and can be swiftly cured with a garlic clove.
Arabic pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are brimming with fake news stories on the novel coronavirus, from benign inaccuracies to full-throated conspiracy theories. As authorities work to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, civic platforms across the Middle East are stepping up to combat the Arabic “infodemic” they say is as dangerous as the infection itself. “We correct the news and save lives,” said Baher Jassem, an Iraqi activist from the Tech 4 Peace collective, which switched from its four-year campaign against fake political and economic news to setting the record straight on Covid-19.
Every few hours, the collective’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages publish screenshots of fabricated news stories about the virus.