Coronavirus rumours have been rife on WhatsApp
Coronavirus has brought unprecedented times and measures within Ireland.
Between pubs and clubs being shut and schools closing their doors - it's very much an unusual time at the moment.
With many people encouraged to work from home, and thus staying indoors, they're looking to WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends - naturally.
However, WhatsApp has begun to make an enemy out of many of us, due to misinformation being spread.
In addition to standard memes being sent around, we're also seeing various voice notes, screengrabs and what have you.
What's contained in some of these voice notes is designed to spread panic.
"[WhatsApp]'s very useful when used properly, but it's an absolute nightmare when it's being used and abused," says tech expert Jess Kelly.
She added, "what we've seen is an incredible amount of not only misinformation but pure fantasy being shared."
It's important to note that if you get a screengrab of WhatsApp messages, or if you get a message that's clearly marked 'forwarded' or if you get a voice note - you are capable of doing all of that yourself.
If you can put together a story about your goldfish's aunt telling you that we're running low on popcorn supplies, so can somebody else.
The difference is that very few people would do it to try and get a kick out of it.
However, we're living in times where we're constantly thinking about our vulnerable family members, neighbours and friends.
That's why there is a really selfish, sinister act at play when someone starts these rumours.
Not only that, but the media waste the time of health and government officials by asking them to clarify these rumours.
There’s a reason none of the journalists you follow, who are paid to be journalists, are reporting on the Whatsapp messages. We will report any changes to measures if and when they’re coming into effect. There’s no conspiracy here. Just some lads bored on their voice notes. FAKE!
— Shane Beatty (@ShaneBeattyNews) March 16, 2020
"Try to get your news from a trusted media source," Ian Power, CEO of SpunOut.ie, told Plan B.
He added: "Stay informed, but don't catastrophise or overwhelm yourself with information either."
Using WhatsApp for good
There are many ways WhatsApp can be used to get us through this tough period.
Everyone is going to be bombarded with information and news articles about coronavirus, so there's an opportunity for it to be used as an escape outlet.
WhatsApp groups are usually used for people to post funny videos and memes - it can still be that outlet.
There are chances for people to be creative with it as well.
Below are groups of our students who decided to stay at home last night and practice social distancing but still were able to have the craic and socialise via video chat.
— University Of Limerick (@UL) March 15, 2020
"Fun ideas like watch parties where you can watch something at the same time together and talk about it in your group," suggests Ian Power.
However, we can also use it to check in with people
Jess Kelly says: "If you have a relative or a friend who are in isolation and being left alone, why not use that platform to check in on them rather than pass on stuff that's not verified."
As always, use the following sources for updated information on the response to COVID-19.