• Alysa Salzberg

How student translators are fighting the spread of coronavirus with words

Citizens of Middle Eastern countries are facing an additional battle in the fight against coronavirus: misinformation.


It’s a sad fact that coronavirus-related sensationalist stories and “fake news” can be found in countries and cultures all over the globe, but Arabic-speaking countries have additional challenges.


Although their language is one of the most-spoken in the world, Arabic is only present on 0.6% of websites. This means that people who don’ t speak another language have less options to get or fact-check information related to COVID-19.


Luckily, Ideas Beyond Borders (IBB), an organization of Arabic-speaking student translators, is working hard to change this situation. The group has already translated more than 11 million words from online books and Wikipedia articles into Arabic, including coronavirus-related information. They’ve also created videos in Arabic sharing information that aims to break myths and propaganda around the disease. There’s definitely a call for them; the videos have already gotten millions of views.


Accurate information is essential to understanding and preventing diseases like COVID-19. Hopefully IBB’s translations and videos will continue to spread, and help stop the spread of coronavirus.


Read on to learn more about the dangers of propaganda and misinformation surrounding COVID-19 in the Middle East, and what IBB is doing to fight it.



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