The Novel Coronavirus , known as Covid-19 which originated from the city of Wuhan in China in December 2019 has to date infected just under 120,000 people throughout the world (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ , 11 March 2020).
With the rapid spread of this virus, conspiracy theories and misinformation about the disease have been widely circulated on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok..
Whilst these social media platforms are trying their best to label and remove false information from their channels, it is impossible to catch and erradicate all fake news from the internet completely. Here are some tips which can be helpful to avoid falling victim to fictitious information about Covid-19.
Always check if the information comes from a credible source
The most reliable source for updates and information relating to Covid-19 is the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html). These sites also provide information about the preventive measures that should be adopted.
Local government and health ministries’ websites will also provide accurate information pertaining to the virus.
Other reliable online sources include:
- CDC (Centre for Disease control and prevention)
- Medline Plus, US National Library of Medicine
- UK’s National Health Service
- US Food and Drug Administration
- The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe’s STAT News.
- Ministry of Health Singapore – Please visit www.moh.gov.sg for updates on the COVID-19 situation and click here for past clarifications.
MOH Singapore advises members of the public to not speculate and/or spread unfounded rumours.
Check out the origin of information posted on the internet
Oftentimes, accuracy is compromised when information is re-scripted in a post or article. If a post or article does not originate from a recognized authority on the disease (such the WHO, CDC or a government body) verify the authenticity before re-posting and sending to your contacts. To verify the authenticity of the information, trace back to the source of the original data referred to in the post and check if this comes from or corresponds to information from a recognized reliable source.
Check for ‘news’ that challenge currently accepted facts relating to Covid-19
Look out for ‘news’ that challenge information recognized or given by the authorities or present ‘facts’ that appear controversial or suspicious.
Be alert to errors in language
Often, spelling, grammar and syntax errors can be found in articles, posts, websites and social media platforms which engage in the spread of fake news.
Be cautious of content which promote viral sharing
You might have come across articles which advise that onions can cure Covid-19 or that this deadly virus was launched by the United States to slow down China’s economic growth. Spurious news and information which stir up interest and emotions, or appear to promote wellbeing and cures often come with an urge from the sender to forward the post to others for their benefit was well. If you receive such messages or articles, inform the sender and advise him/her to check facts in future before sharing and perpetuating fake news. If an individual or social media group is constantly sharing articles or posts of this nature, report this to the concerned authorities.
Google the information received
If you have received information about Covid-19 that you find suspicious or are unsure of its authenticity, google the information received to confirm if this is corroborated by credible sources such as the WHO or the CDC.
Law enforcement to prohibit the generation and proliferation of fake news
Governments and law enforcement agencies should enforce cyber-laws in their respective regions to prevent the creation and proliferation of fake news. Anyone found guilty of this should be punished as per Cyber law acts.
The Bottom Line
As much of Covid-19 is still unknown and doctors and scientists are working hard and fast to learn more about the disease and how best to combat it, the best sites for reliable up to date information would be organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose expertise and mission is the protection of public health.
Find below a list of official websites around the World:
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