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Combating fake news during a pandemic, UCF professor says it’s a real problem

Florida's Fourth Estate talks to UCF professor Chrysalis Wright

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Masks are dangerous to wear? Nope. Coronavirus case numbers inflated? Not true. Fake testing? False.

It turns out it’s harder than most people realize to stop a fake news cycle once it has hit social media.

How does it all start and who is responsible for calling it out?

We all have a role to play to stop the proliferation of news that is not only fake but dangerous.

A lot of false information about the coronavirus is parading around as fact and people are buying into it.

This week Florida’s Fourth Estate podcast hosts Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin spoke with Dr. Chrysalis Wright, a fake news expert and professor at the University of Central Florida.

[RELATED: Russia fines opposition radio station for fake news | EU wants tech giants to do more to counter virus fake news]

She gives us her take on the fake stories about coronavirus and what makes them so utterly ridiculous.

“There are tons of news stories on social media right now that says the case numbers are inflated, you know, that they are doing fake testing,” Wright said. “That’s fake, it’s false and those types of narratives that continue to be shared just push this notion that this whole coronavirus issue is fake it’s not real.”

The coronavirus pandemic is real and has killed more than 138,000 people across the U.S. alone.

Wright said false information is being shared about wearing masks which can help prevent the spread of the disease. Recently, she saw another false narrative being shared that indicated wearing masks are dangerous.

“No, they’re not. Tell the surgeon who is wearing a mask for hours at a time performing your surgery, do you not want them to wear a mask?” Wright said.

[Introducing Trust Index: Our commitment to fighting misinformation with journalism, facts]

The UCF professor has some guided tips on how to spot fake news and how to call out the people who are driving their own agenda and putting out dangerous information to be consumed and shared by unsuspecting consumers.

Wright said people need to look at where the information is coming from before they share it on social media.

“Where are you getting your information from if you can’t trust the repeatable news sources?” Wright said.

Viewers can listen to the whole Florida’s Fourth Estate podcast in the video below or download the full episode on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever they listen to their favorite podcasts.


Florida’s Fourth Estate looks at everything from swampy politics to a fragile environment and even the crazy headlines that make Florida the craziest state in the Union.

Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin use decades of experience as journalists to dissect the headlines that impact Florida. Each week they have a guest host who helps give an irreverent look at the issues impacting the Sunshine State. Big influencers like Attorney John Morgan, renowned Florida journalists and the scientists protecting Florida’s ecosystem can often be found as guests.

Look for new episodes every week, and visit ClickOrlando.com for the latest WKMG News 6 coverage of Orlando and beyond.


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