You may have been receiving dozens of messages a day about what COVID-19 is, what its symptoms are and how you can protect yourself from it. Many messages may have random suggestions with no explanation or scientific basis. In these circumstances, it is important to recognize coronavirus misinformation and stop yourself from participating in the spread of fake news. Therefore, in this article we will offer you some simple tips to fight fear, identify misinformation and challenge it.
Always look at the source
With every COVID-19 related information you receive or read on the internet, always check the source. Ask yourself – who is saying this? Is this person an expert on the subject? Or are they simply saying what they heard from someone else? If the information is not coming from a reputable organization such as the World Health Organization then it is important to question the motives of the post. Before you decide to forward a message, ask yourself: Am I absolutely certain that this information is correct? If your answer is “I don’t know”, then you should stop to do some research.
Understand that spreading misinformation can be dangerous
Forwarding messages to your contacts may be your regular response. However, in the current pandemic, it is best to consider the dangers of spreading misinformation. You do not want to incite panic and mass confusion in people. If for example, you receive a fake message about how supermarkets in your area are about to close soon and forward it to all your contacts who forward it to theirs, it could lead to people rushing to supermarkets and panic buying. Therefore, you should consider the consequences of spreading coronavirus misinformation.
Look at a variety of news sources
In order to break free of your own biases, you should look at a number of different news sources. For example, if you are used to reading one type of newspaper or watching one TV channel, check what the other newspapers or channels are saying. This will allow you to break out of the information bubble that exists when you subscribe to only one news source.
Trust the guidelines issued by the WHO
There may be many ‘cures’ and ‘protection measures’ making their rounds on Whatsapp and Facebook. It may be tempting for you to believe in some of them. However, it is very important that you only follow the guidelines of trusted organizations such as the WHO. If the WHO says that the best way to protect yourself from the virus is to socially distance yourself and wash your hands often, then that’s what you should do. Whatsapp has partnered with WHO to provide you with the latest guidelines and you can access that information with a simple message. Click here to find out how.
If you consciously tune out the coronavirus misinformation and only look towards trusted sources, it will help you combat the fear. For information on how to protect yourself from coronavirus, read our last post based on WHO guidelines.