India has been the source of the most amount of social media misinformation on COVID-19, a study revealed. It further added that the country's higher internet penetration rate, increasing social media consumption and users' lack of internet literacy are the reasons behind the numbers.
Published in Sage's International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions journal, 'Prevalence and Source Analysis of COVID-19 Misinformation in 138 Countries' analysed 9,657 pieces of misinformation. They were fact-checked by 94 organisations to understand the prevalence and sources of misinformation in different countries.
Misinformation can be described as false, inaccurate and/or misleading information that is communicated regardless of an intention to deceive. Whether it was the US Presidential elections, West Bengal elections or earthquakes around the world, information that is not verified and mostly false, reaches the consumers through social media.
"Of all the countries, India (18.07%) produced the largest amount of social media misinformation, perhaps thanks to the country's higher internet penetration rate, increasing social media consumption and users' lack of internet literacy," the study said.
Also, the results also showed that India (15.94%), the US (9.74%), Brazil (8.57 per cent) and Spain (8.03%) are the four most misinformation-affected countries.
Based on the results, the study said, it is presumed that the prevalence of COVID-19 misinformation can have a positive association with the pandemic situation.
"Social media (84.94%) produces the largest amount of misinformation, and the internet (90.5%) as a whole is responsible for most of the COVID-19 misinformation. Moreover, Facebook alone produces 66.87% of the misinformation among all social media platforms," it stated.
Earlier, the World Health Organisation had also warned that false information on COVID-19 is spreading and putting people in danger.
The WHO had urged people to make sure to double-check everything they hear with trusted sources.