Moroccan Social Media Platforms and COVID-19 Misinformation
Keywords:Covid-19, disinformation, Media Information Literacy, social media, public relations practitioners, crisis communication management
COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic’ and an over-abundance of disinformation that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it. Young Moroccan internet users resort to social media for their news, and easily fall prey to the misinformation and fake news they encounter online. When it concerns public health, disinformation can turn into a lethal weapon. This is further exacerbated at the time of COVID-19 pandemic. To tackle this, the present research paper answers the research questions using a qualitative method, particularly semi-structured interviews preferable in exploratory research where the purpose is to gain an understanding of spreading online misinformation in the age of COVID-19. Semi-structured Interviews are conducted via “Google Meet” and “Zoom” using video-conferencing among 12 young Moroccan social media activists and professionals. The main research findings have shown that young Moroccan social media users have been consuming fake news about the Coronavirus, which has been especially prevalent on the most popular platforms, Facebook, Whats App and YouTube. Other results have shown that the mainstream media failed to debunk misinformation by subjecting them to rigorous fact checking experiments, lack of Media Information Literacy research in the form of crisis audits and crisis planning, Moroccan social media are ill prepared for crisis manual and conducting crisis training. These ensure that media regulators are not better equipped to handle any misinformation in health crisis situations. Therefore, media literacy is not only about how to use the computer and do an internet search, it also involves helping young Moroccan people to deal with disinformation in crisis situations, and realize that anyone anywhere can put up a very official-looking websites. These websites masquerade as high-credibility sources that have been spreading misinformation about COVID-19. Therefore, the government needs.
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