Fake news, a locomotive of the epidemic of fear

False information surrounding the Covid-19 epidemic is spreading like wildfire. This coronavirus intoxication or fake news spreads through all social circles, and it is sometimes difficult to discern what is based on proven scientific information, pseudo-scientific rumor or excessive concern. What about their impact on the psychological state of Moroccans?

Never had the number of Firefox, rumors, conspiracy theories been so high. Is it due to confinement, a collective concern, or the increased time spent on social networks?

Social networks have become the primary vector of false information, which is now ravaging and sparing no one, even the most informed are no longer immune and can also sometimes help spread false information by sharing with their relatives they receive, thus misleading crowds.

Contacted by DIPLOMATIC MOROCCO, Reda Mhasni clinical psychologist and psychology teacher explains that “the motivations may be good or bad faith, but the impact is most often negative. Generally, the person who shares the information is a person who is close to his interlocutor, whether it is a friend, a colleague or a family member, thinking of doing well by informing this recipient ”.

This psychotherapist also talks about what he calls “the epidemic of fear”, linked to the stress generated by fake news. “For example, when we learn that thanks to a technique x the world has found a treatment with coronavirus, information that gives us hope and then we go to check with reliable sources the veracity of the content we have received, but once we realize that this is not true, we are again disappointed, something which amplifies the anxiety linked to this pandemic, ”he underlines.

On the other hand, we observe a certain “dramatization” of the situation, which provokes anxiety-provoking attitudes, in particular, behaviors which result from it, such as “mass supply”.

So how do you live with it and deal with the surrounding uncertainty? How to manage your anxieties?

According to this clinical psychologist, people should use their critical spirit, take the time to learn directly from official and credible sources of information, and get out of passivity by becoming an actor in the quest for the truth. “This is a new period, we have no intellectual reference to what is going on, it is very important to accompany this change with a constructive attitude,” he retorts.

Reda Mhasni believes that fake news is a locomotive of the epidemic of fear and calls on the media to use their credibility to stem the spread of news. “I think the authorities are responding very well, but the media should also support these efforts. The number of people arrested for spreading fake news is not continuously commented on by the media, to have a deterrent impact on populations, “he said.

These practices are not lost on the Moroccan specialized brigades. This is why a series of arrests has been announced recently. More than 8,612 people were arrested, as part of the fight against fake news damaging the feeling of security among citizens and to guarantee the application of the state of health emergency.

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