How to spot fake news about the coronavirus

Who sent you this? Where did you see it? What is the source? Six tips on how to check whether information about the coronavirus is real or fake.

Worried about COVID-19?

If so, make sure what you are reading is not fake news. Here are some tips and techniques on how to spot fake news and prevent any misinformation from spreading to your friends’ timelines. Heaven Taylor-Wynn, a multimedia reporter from MediaWise, talks to Brut about what people should be looking out for.

Check the source

“The first thing I usually do, if somebody sends me anything, I think it comes with the territory and the job that I do, but the first thing I'm like, where do you get that from? You know, who sent you this? Where did you see it? What is the source? What is the news outlet, if it's on Twitter, who tweeted it on Instagram, who posted it?” This should inform a lot of the decision making behind whether something is fact or fiction.

Check the evidence

“We actually did a fact check on whether smoking weed will cure the coronavirus — does not… But the effects of this are something we'd like to say in our presentations, is that the information that you consume directly impacts the decisions that you make in life. And so with something like this, it is literally affecting people's lives, their livelihoods, how they're going about their day.”

Crosscheck your information

“If you come across a post somewhere and it's really outlandish, it's the first time you're hearing it that to raise a red flag. Because if it's true, you will see a lot of reporting about it. So those are the ways of life to evaluate information.” It is also extremely important to check the CDC, if you are living in the U.S., and if you are not in the U.S., to check the WHO because they will always have the best most up to date information.

Rely on local media

There are a lot of closures and shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and people will want to consult their local reporting to see how their particular area is going to be affected.

Not everybody “knows someone in the CDC”

Remember, not everyone personally knows someone who works for the CDC. “One thing that was circulating just this past weekend that I saw in like my friend groups and group chats was saying, ‘Oh, I know someone in the CDC and they said that they're going to have a national two week whatever shutdown,’ or something like that… And so people were talking about that on Twitter. And I'm just like, OK. How does every — how is it that everyone that you know knows someone in the CDC, like this was not a conversation we were having before.”

Think before you share

“More than anything. Think before you share. I know. At a time like now, everyone's worried. Everyone wants to know what's going on. And frankly, we don't have all of the answers. But we all have power. We all have influence to share good and reliable information to help each other out. And so I would charge everyone to fact check before they share and be reading fact checks. Follow PolitiFact, Snopes, FactCheck, or Mediawise, you know, follow different places who are trying to get accurate information out.”