Viruses, as a rule are inimical and range from the types that cause mild inconvenience like flu to the more deadly ones like Covid-19 now doing the rounds. Then there are viruses of another kind doing the rounds of social media and these viral claims can cause anything from monetary loss to serious death threats should you choose to put your trust in them. Be careful. People like to take advantage of situations. The reasons vary. Some do it to gain fame and momentary popularity. Others like to show off their knowledge and, in the process, misinform gullible people. Then there are others who find this a time to float scams on social media in an effort to cash in.
Such claims spread like wildfire
Unfortunately for social media, while it helps propagate news it can also cause social bushfires that are hard to put out. Gleaning the social media field yields information about the way scammers are trying to cash in on the Covid-19 outbreak and dupe unsuspecting people.
What better than social media to try and sell a product that supposedly offers immunity against Covid-19 or, worse, a cure? People are going to fall for it in droves since no one likes to become a victim. Naturally, when a thing is in high demand and short supply people will pay anything to get their hands on a remedy that is supposed to work wonders. Scammers are selling fake products that they claim will cure people of the virus. If you wish to part with your heard-earned money, buy these products.
Then there are people who will try to impersonate government officials or international health organizations and post a message or even call you with dire threats of quarantine or fines and offer to help for a small fee.
Some simply make use of the Covid-19 as a lever to get hold of your personal data or even induce you to part with bank information. You may see an innocuous link in a social media post asking you to click on it for your benefit.
Then are scamsters active on social media wishing to profit by the Covid-19 outbreak. They will post heart-rending tales about someone being in need of money and ask for donations.
While scamsters will always try to cash in on situations like the corona virus one, there are people who love to spread false rumors and create a scare. Beware of these fear-mongering tactics.
For instance, one viral fear mongering rumor doing the rounds is that chicken spread the virus or that non-vegetarian foods spread the virus. There is no scientific background to this but the effect can be devastating. The entire chicken industry is in a slump. Eggs that were sold for around Rs 60 per dozen now sell for Rs 36 causing inestimable loss to poultry farmers. Would you want to be a reason for their economic disaster? Please do not spread all such unfounded rumors and claims on social media. Likewise, eating purely vegetarian diet does not keep you protected against infection.
False information to boost views or just show off
Then there are people who darkly predict a total lockdown and ask people to stock up on any and all commodities for a month or more. There is no reason to panic. Essential commodities will continue to be available. Do not be taken in and buy more than you need. There is a certain type of mentality that loves to show off its knowledge, right or wrong, and to get maximum views. In the process they will spread false information.
Then there are claims that you should drink lots of water all the time to wash down the virus to your stomach where acids will kill it. This is blatantly false. The best thing is prevention through protection and social distancing. Do not believe this or other fake advice that drinking cow urine or cleansing with cow dung or using silver nitrate or chloroquin will offer protection. A Youtube video claims that if you inhale hot air from a hair dryer it will kill the virus. There is no support for this claim. Similarly, there are no grounds to say that those infected with Covid-19 will become worse if they take anti-inflammatory drugs. WHO states that ibuprofen is safe for corona virus patients.
Some people love to state that if you had corona virus and recovered you have built up immunity. This could be false since such people have tested positive again.
Being socially responsible
What people who spread false viral rumours do not have is social accountability and responsibility that something as innocuous as forwarding a patently false piece of information can have wider ramifications or even instill a false sense of safety. Corona threat is live and a serious risk. It is for everyone who is active on social media to actively debunk myths. Instead of passively forwarding such false viral posts you receive, forward them with an advisory to counter such damaging posts and tweets.
If you do exhibit symptoms that could indicate a likely infection, seek medical assistance and quarantine yourself instead of ignoring it and spreading it to others who may be more vulnerable. You may recover. They may not. Do you want it on your conscience?
Then there are others who have been very badly affected by the Corona situation. They are out of work and do not have even basic necessities for their family. Why not use social media constructively to garner help for them?