ScienceTalk

Falling for falsehoods - a diet for prevention

Consuming information in a discerning manner can help us resist dubious claims

Ms May Liu, owner of halal-certified yong tau foo stall Green Delights at Westgate mall. False online claims last year led to a fall in sales, although a probe by Muis found the stall followed proper food-handling procedures.
Ms May Liu, owner of halal-certified yong tau foo stall Green Delights at Westgate mall. False online claims last year led to a fall in sales, although a probe by Muis found the stall followed proper food-handling procedures.ST PHOTO: LIM YAUHUI

The reach of social media was once lauded for facilitating prominent social movements such as the Arab Spring uprisings against oppression, that spread across North Africa and the Middle East in late 2010. Now, it has been identified as a key medium for spreading lies.

Seven in 10 of 28,122 social media and messaging app users from 11 emerging economies surveyed last year by the Pew Research Centre reported being regularly exposed to blatantly false information online.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2019, with the headline 'Falling for falsehoods - a diet for prevention'. Subscribe