Image for post
Image for post
Source: WHO, flattening the infodemic curve

This is how you can Stop Fake News From Spreading

Using the powers within your reach

Fake news is a phrase tossed around at a commonplace frequency these days. The rule of law surrounding reality doesn’t exist. Reality has never been something that’s been questioned so vehemently until now.

Just a few years ago, there was no such term in the American vocabulary. The advent and proliferation of social media platforms have also optimized the rate at which information headlines a user’s screen.

Earlier this year, Breitbart had a live stream of America’s self-proclaimed “Frontline Doctors”. These were 10 humans dressed in white coats in front of the Supreme Court speaking at length about the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine. This video garnered approximately 17 million views in a few hours before Facebook decided that it needed to be taken down.

Hannah Bleau, on Breitbart, wrote that the entire message and goal of these doctors was to address the “widespread misinformation” surrounding the noble coronavirus. This was on July 28, 2020, where 152,000 Americans had already died. As of today, October 30th, 235,000 Americans have died.

On understanding the origin.

The efficacy of administering hydroxychloroquine in late March wasn’t known. On March 28th, the FDA granted an emergency use authorization for doctors to administer it to some COVID-19 patients. By mid-June, the FDA revoked the emergency authorization, stating that the drug does more harm than good. The National Institutes of Health also halted their trials, claiming that it was highly unlikely to help hospitalized patients.

By June we knew it wasn’t good for us. By July, we should have very clearly known for a month it wasn’t good for us.

Studies continue to develop, such as this one on the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy that claims:

“Moderate certainty evidence suggests that HCQ, with or without azithromycin, lacks efficacy in reducing short-term mortality in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 or risk of hospitalization in outpatients with COVID-19.”

Breitbart’s continued push for hydroxychloroquine are not rooted in the science or the scientific experts. Their truth is vicissitudinous, depending on the pre-image of the truth they’re trying to map.

Pulling words from eye-doctors such as James Todaro who haven’t been practicing for the last two years is one of those moves:

“If it seems like there is an orchestrated attack that’s going on on hydroxychloroquine, it’s because there is. When have you ever heard of a medication generating this degree of controversy — a 65-year-old medication that has been [on] the World Health Organization’s safe, essential list of medications for years.”

That wasn’t the case for hydroxychloroquine. The WHO’s exact wording on July 4th, 2020 was that they “accepted the recommendation from the Solidarity Trial’s International Steering Committee to discontinue the trial’s hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir arms. In light of the evidence…These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care.”

If anybody is going to take medical advice, it’s probably not best to take it from a retired eye-doctor out of Michigan who hasn’t been practicing for the last two years. I’d much rather take it from the main source of knowledge, which isn’t Breitbart quoting a retired eye-doctor or Trump Jr.’s lawyer.

Stopping to find the source is a check for your path in due diligence.

On understanding agenda.

What is the point of Breitbart posting a Facebook video on doctors in front of the Supreme Court?

Doctors with the “Frontline” were miscategorized from the start. Stella Immanuel was a pediatrician and minister in Houston, with a clinic in a strip mall. Bob Hamilton is also a pediatrician. Dan Erickson is a former emergency physician in Bakersfield, California. The American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine condemned his claims that COVID was far less serious than the media was making it out to be. They called his claims “untested musings” that were “inconsistent with current science and epidemiology regarding COVID-19”.

The list goes on. These are doctors who are severely out of touch with reality. Whether or not COVID-19 is less or more serious depends on the process of the scientific method. At current, COVID-19 has killed 250,000 Americans. The actual frontline doctors are not standing on the Supreme Court steps handing out airtime for Breitbart to paste on Facebook. They’re out there working on the actual frontlines, saving lives.

Breitbart’s agenda is to spin and sell the information to you, in hopes that some portion of the people watching the video will then pass that information off as authentic to the next.

Fake news is the art of selling the semblance of truth as the actual truth. The reason for doing so is for advertising revenue to Breitbart. More eyeballs mean more dollars. If you see advertisements plastered around the page, the product isn’t the information — it’s you.

Written by

UC Berkeley, mathematics. Los Angeles. Long-time runner. Top writer on Quora, 100M+ total content views. New to Medium. Inquiries:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store