On TikTok, lies and misinformation run wild - Hack - triple j

Aug 13, 2021 12:50 AM
tiktokABC Hackagency and controluse of the mediamedia and audience influencecovid-19coronavirus

We know conspiracies are all over Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, but we've discovered misinformation about Australia's COVID lockdowns have been going viral on TikTok, fuelled by the app’s powerful algorithm.

And, influencers are helping to peddle this dangerous information.

Plus, how you can spot fake posts on social media and protect yourself and your community from going down conspiratorial rabbit holes.

Live guests: Dr Joshua Roose, extremism researcher at Deakin Uni Dr Brad McKay, GP and author of ‘Fake Medicine’ Dr Tanya Notley, researcher at Western Sydney University


The NSW Government wants to see six million jabs in arms by the end of August. Image: Lisa Maree Williams, Getty Images

A 28-year-old software engineer has created a website that alerts users when Pfizer vaccine bookings are available across Sydney.

Fraser Hemphill said the idea came to him after hanging out with a nurse mate of his who was struggling to book the vaccine through four different booking portals.

"I was watching her reload the page over and over again until she tried to find one and couldn't book it because somebody jumped in," he said.

Is there a secret to booking an appointment for the Covid vaccine? Can’t book anywhere in Sydney— Krisp Interiors (@krispinteriors) June 24, 2021

"I thought this could definitely be easier."

Fraser worked up a web script that would help his friend find vaccine bookings immediately.

"I sent it out to friends and they loved it... and I got a lot of positive feedback about how they were able to book their vaccines very quickly," he said.

He figured it could also help others struggling to book and built a website for it called covidqueue.com.

"I put it on Reddit hoping it would help other people and then it just kind of blew up from there," Fraser said.

Since posting about it on Sunday, Fraser said his site has had 80,000 unique visitors and 50,000 people clicked a link to go out to one of the government vaccine booking portals.

The service is free and works by continuously checking booking portals for the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, St Vincent Hospital or Sydney Olympic Hub. Users just need to click "Get in Line" and once a time and date becomes available the site will make a ding sound.

"Once one is available, [you] can jump on to the corresponding government portal and make a booking quickly rather than having to sit there and reload again and again," Fraser said.

The Sydneysider said his motivation for creating the website was frustration with the current booking system and a desire to get out of lockdown as soon as possible.

My friend made #CovidQueue - it's a site that works as an alarm clock for Sydney vaccine bookings. As soon as a booking is cancelled or becomes available, your device will BEEP and direct you to the correct booking form. #lockdownextension #covidsydney 💉https://t.co/SoAxyCqXSY pic.twitter.com/HqcTHq4l37— Laura (@haylaurpaul) July 29, 2021

"My family's in Queensland and I can't see my newborn niece... so I'm really keen to get out of lockdown," he said

"I'm just trying to help everyone get their vaccines as quickly as possible, [and] try to solve the problem rather than just kind of cursing the situation we're in."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked about the website in a press conference today and said he was working to improve the booking systems.

"We're working closely with the states and territories constantly to try and refine best practice across those systems," he said.

"But I have also seen examples of next day bookings. I mean, there are many opportunities for AstraZeneca right now within days, so it is variable but we're working to get it as consistent as we can."

Vaccination has now become Australia's frontline strategy to beat the Delta variant of COVID-19.

In today's press conference Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed she wants to see six million jabs administered in NSW by the end of August. We're currently sitting at around 3.9 million doses.

"Six million jabs is roughly half the population with at least one or two doses," she said.

"That gives us additional options as to what life looks like on 29 August."

The Premier indicated that some lockdown restrictions in Greater Sydney and its surrounds could be eased if NSW reached that target.

Despite the handy site, the Pfizer jab is still hard to come by for young Australians who aren't eligible for it. But you can get the AstraZeneca after a chat with your GP, or at clinics across Sydney.