Bahrain: Rumours and Fake News in the Time of Coronavirus

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Millions of people are looking up to social media apps for their messaging needs. However, these apps have become an avenue for spreading rumours, fake news and misinformation during the era of coronavirus.

Many social media users in Bahrain are misusing modern technology to spread fake news and rumours. Plenty of the circulating messages are about the virus and its attribution to several shopping destinations in the Kingdom. Other messages lead to websites that lure people to give their credit card information and other personal details.

Furthermore, a number of chain messages stating bogus medical advice are also being forwarded in messaging apps. It is worth noting that there are still no known home remedies and vaccines available to treat COVID-19.

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As the coronavirus has spread across the world, so too has misinformation about it. These rumours are travelling successfully in text message chains in WhatsApp and Facebook. The messages have spread almost as fast as the virus.

Misinformation about COVID-19 can be as dangerous about the virus itself. These false information incites worry, panic and leads people into paths that could make them ill-equipped to fight the virus.

Spreading fake news is punishable by law in Bahrain. Article 168 of the Penal Code stipulates “imprisonment for a period of no more than two years and a fine not exceeding BD 200 or either penalty shall be the punishment for any person who deliberately disseminates false reports, statements or malicious rumors, or produces any publicity seeking to damage public security, terrorize the population or cause damage to the public interest.”

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Gulf Insider recommends verifying the source of the news before forwarding it. If you’re not sure if a message is true, search online for facts and check credible news sites to see where the story came from. We are all susceptible to misinformation – therefore, we must listen to trusted sources now more than ever.

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