Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kominfo) has said that the spread of hoaxes in the community can hamper efforts to handle the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

"Hoaxes that thrive can prevent us from handling crises, in this case, the COVID-19 pandemic," Director General of Information and Public Communication at the Communication and Informatics Ministry Usman Kansong said at the 'The Challenge of Public Communication to Build Optimism' webinar on Thursday.

Hoaxes develop when there are high dynamics in society, for example, during general elections or health crises like now, he remarked.

To handle hoaxes that have spread rapidly amid the pandemic, Kominfo has continued to comb and create counter-narratives, especially for health-related hoaxes, he informed.

According to Kominfo data, 270 hoaxes were recorded related to the COVID-19 vaccine, and their distribution reached 1,897 contents.

Kominfo immediately took down the content because it could make people refuse to get vaccinated, Kansong informed.

Related news: Ministry records 686 hoaxes on COVID-19

To reduce the spread of fake content on social media, Kominfo is working with electronic system organizers or social media platforms to take down inappropriate content, he said.

"We need the platform's contribution. Abroad, this commonly happens," Kansong added.

He cited the opinion of experts that counter-narratives for hoaxes can increase engagement with the content.

When reading counter-narratives, people will try to find out what is behind them and look for the hoax in question, he pointed out.

"Therefore, according to experts, it is best to ask the platforms to take down (the hoaxes) so that people cannot access them," he said.

Apart from cutting off access, Kominfo is focusing more on raising digital literacy among the public and providing counter-narratives against circulating hoaxes, he informed.

According to Kominfo, spreading counter-narratives is one way to protect the public from hoaxes.

Not only that, but the ministry is also cooperating with mass media, which has fact-checking teams, Kansong said.

Digital literacy needs to be strengthened among the community so that people can use the internet to get accurate information, he added.

Related news: Police detain 17 over charges of spreading hoaxes on COVID-19

Translator: Natisha A, Raka Adji
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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