The ability to send a recording on Messenger is getting out there now, and people are taking advantage of it to spread questionable audible information.
I have received two messages of the same recording by a woman with an Australian accent, who says she has heard from a hospital that the Chinese have examined corpses and concluded the virus can be regarded by drinking hot liquids. Another said that drinking lemon in hot water will protect from the virus. Another said gargling with salt water will do the trick.
Two people forwarded me a recording of some guy saying he worked for a state senator — he didn’t say which one — that we’d have martial law by Monday.
Other messages warned that the virus was being spread by gas pump handles, so don’t touch them with a bare hand. Probably a good idea, but that is not typically how the virus is spread.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are major purveyors of false information, but there has been a surge of fake text messages directly to your phone.
There has been no discussion of martial law, although there have been discussions of various moves the federal government could make to ramp up production of needed products, or to use federal troops to help, as often happens during emergencies.
People have been receiving, then forwarding, this misinformation. The crap spreads faster than the virus. Please keep this text message in mind: Half the stuff on the internet is bullshit, Abraham Lincoln said.
Most Americans do not read a newspaper. Most do not have an all-news radio station. Most do not watch any televised newscast — not national, not local. Most Americans, actually, live in a news-free burrow. That is not good for society, but it is uniquely harmful now, during an emergency that is the equivalent of World War III.
Since this is just about never taught in school, now is a good time for me to lead a brief seminar on how to recognize actual “fake news” and how to apply litmus paper to a rumor.
First, ignore almost all information that begins with the words, “I heard that…”
Here I settle a score with Democrat Harry Reid, who was then the Senate Majority Leader. It was during the 2012 election when Reid said, “Word is out” that Mitt Romney didn’t pay federal taxes for 10 years. It was, and is, a disgusting lie. “Word is out” that Reid has sex with kittens. See how easy it is?
“Word is out” and “I heard that” are meaningless. They are almost red flags that was follows is BS.
You should ask, “Who put the word out,” or “From whom did you hear that?”
What this means is, find the source. Is he or she an authority or someone in the know? Look — sometimes your cousin will hear something that is true, but not often enough for you to place trust in what he says.
Decide if that source is credible.
Sorry, Trumpsters, the New York Times and the Washington Post are valid and trustworthy sources on news reporting. Never mind the columns and editorials. Sorry, Lefties, Fox News is a credible source on news reporting. Never mind Fox and Friends and the opinion shows.
Will the above make occasional mistakes? Yes, and will apologize when they do.
The polls sponsored by networks are also trustworthy. The Gallup, Harris and other well-known polling operations also can be trusted. Yes, they got the 2016 election wrong, but they got the primaries right.
There are online fact-testing sites you can try: FactCheck.org, PolitiFact.com, OpenSecrets.com, Snopes.com, HoaxSlayer.com
Some are accused of leaning left, but they are generally reliable.
Remember the adage — If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Same for anything that sounds too bad to be true.
Here’s another adage from my line of work: If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.