It seems that in the current rapidly-changing global situation, everyone from news outlets to your mom’s friend on Facebook wants to be the first to spill new information related to the coronavirus pandemic. This has led to what has been called an “infodemic.” While the eagerness is good in terms of the public’s commitment to staying up to date on the latest updates, it has also become a breeding ground for fake news. Here are our tips and tricks for weeding out the hoaxes from the truly invaluable official reports.
The first thing to look at is where the information is coming from. Is it being reported by scientists and trusted news sources, or is it from a civilian account or via a WhatsApp chat? If it’s coming from a trustworthy source, you should be able to cross-reference across all their social media accounts and website to confirm that it is genuine content and not an online rumour.
Trustworthy accounts generally have an associated logo. If you doubt the information being presented, take a closer look to confirm that it is a verified account with the correct logo, and not a phoney account impersonating an actual news source. It’s also good to remember that the spelling, grammar and language used by trustworthy sources would be simple, clear and correct.
Another way to sniff out a potentially fake source would be over-encouragement to engage or share. Reputable sources are dedicated to providing accurate information, not the number of likes on their posts!
If you’ve gone through all of the above and nothing seems amiss, except the validity of the information provided, remember that you can fact check across the information provided by other trustworthy sources. If two or three genuine and reputable sources are reporting the same information, no matter how unbelievable, it may be worth investigating further with official reports, such as government statements, as there is a good chance that it could be not only valid but highly important.
While we encourage you to pay attention to reports at this turbulent time, we also warn you to confirm any updates you see before passing the news along to those close to you or making arrangements to comply with any instructions. This is a time for unity and taking heed of important information as it comes in so that we can protect each other and overcome the COVID-19 outbreak as a team.