Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona Speaks Out Against Online Misinformation

Published: Friday, April 17, 2020 - 12:54pm

Blowing a hair dryer up your nose or drinking tonic water won’t cure the coronavirus. But according to misinformation campaigns on social media, those are just some of the possible treatments. 

Richard Carmona served as surgeon general in the George W. Bush administration. He says the online misinformation campaigns are deeply troubling and are endangering Americans.

"The social media that’s out there that I would characterize as fake news for personal gain by various people, that is malignant," he said. "It’s criminal as far as I’m concerned, because it puts more uncertainty into the population, and we already have people that are scared."

Facebook has started notifying users when they like or share posts that are misleading or contain misinformation. But for information on public health — or any important issue — it's important to know the source's expertise.

"We need single information that’s credible from uniform persons that understand the importance of these messages, that help to calm, that instill knowledge, that don’t create fear but create more certainty," Carmona said.

The biggest piece of advice from media literacy experts? If it inflames more than it informs, take it with a grain of salt.

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