I’m sure you’re at least familiar with the heavily forwarded GIFs and video files sent to WhatsApp groups (or, if you’re really unlucky, individually). They’re often associated with the spread of misinformation, as some of these files can often contain badly edited fake news regarding topics like COVID-19 and vaccines. To help combat it, the folks at Last Week Tonight created a site where you can download similar video files and GIFs that help stop the fake news spread.
In their video, John Oliver explained that social media sites like Facebook are only now working on things like flagging misinformation for English language content. However, misinformation in other languages don’t get the same amount of attention.
“90% of Facebook users are outside the U.S. and Canada. When it comes to the hours the company spends on monitoring misinformation, last year only 13% were spent on content from outside the U.S.” said Oliver.
With the lack of attention focused on content of languages that aren’t English, it results in many Facebook and WhatsApp users who use it in their own languages to view and share misinformation. Oliver continues saying that he knows it’s “hard to image that (misinformation spread in English) could be worse. But for non-English language misinformation, it honestly is”.
Malaysia does have fact-checking sites to help debunk misinformation like Sebenarnya.my. However, the spread of anti-vaccine and COVID-19 misinformation is not unheard of, especially amongst the older users of social media. But it can also be quite common in WhatsApp chat groups containing family members.
Enter: BetterMorningMessages.com—something Last Week Tonight’s team had created for our own benefit. It includes several hilarious video clips and GIFs that you can download and keep for the next time an uncle or auntie sends the family group chat a particularly misinformed piece of information.
The files won’t let you down if you need a good laugh. It includes the phrases, “If you share one more COVID conspiracy, I will throw your phone into a river. Have a great day!” and “Uncle! I would love for you to stop sharing sketchy memes.”
I plan on saving a few of these myself to send to anyone who would send any content containing misinformation on WhatsApp. But if you beat me to it, let me know in the comments how your family members reacted. But keep in mind that you’re doing a good job in stopping the spread of misinformation—even if the method is a little silly.
There has been multiple examples of the spread of COVID-19 misinformation in Malaysia, like the sharing on unverified news of a COVID-19 spread in a school, and the fake news of a man who had died eating durian after he had gotten his COVID-19 vaccine. Under the Emergency Ordinance, individuals that create or publish fake news can also be fined up to RM100,000.