CBC has compiled data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention into a “Swine flu: FAQ” page for readers.
The page includes answers to questions including, “Can humans catch swine flu?” and “Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?”
As with all stories online, the public immediately began to weigh in on the information provided. For example, one reader, “laurencbd”, felt the CBC acted irresponsibly by putting images of pigs alongside this FAQ sheet. The reader wrote:
“Associating images of pigs with this story only serves
to confuse readers and fuel the rumour that transmission of this
outbreak is related to having contact with pigs or consuming pork.
Since neither of these exposure are thought to be related to the
current outbreak, the CBC should be more careful about the images it
uses in its stories.”
However, the CDC FAQ page specifically states that contact with pigs is indeed how the virus spreads. It reads:
“Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic
human infections with swine flu have occurred. Most commonly, these
cases occur in persons with direct exposure to pigs (e.g. children near
pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry).”
Reader comments can be valuable in adding information to stories posted online, but is there any danger in readers providing false information in comments sections during a situation such as the current swine flu scare?
Should comments be more rigorously moderated on topics where the public’s safety is at stake?