Don’t spread fake news! 6 helpful tips

Conspiracy theories! Quack cures! Bogus origins for the virus! You’ve seen them come and go. And there will be more. Want to stop the spread of fake news? Everyone can help! 
Here’s a quick guide to self-defence in the COVID-19 era. Recommended if you regularly use social media. 

Keep your cool 

The pandemic affects everyone. Sometimes it’s hard to keep your emotions in check. Your critical perspective can go out the window. People who create and spread fake news know this. They play on your emotions to attract clicks.  

Don’t share publications that trigger strong emotional reactions – not unless you take a step back and check them out first. If too much information overwhelms you, avoid social media for awhile.  

 

Read the publication from end to end

Maybe you think this tip is too obvious. But 2/3 of publications shared on social media aren’t even read! Don’t rely on catchy and alarmist headlines! Beware of sensational publications. Take time to read an article from end to end. Or watch an entire video before you share it. Does the author rely on experts? Or is it just his opinion! Maybe he’s trying to sell you a phony treatment through the grapevine… 

 

Check the source

Fake news can be very good at imitating “real news”. When it’s sent by someone close to you, it’s even harder to know where it comes from.  

What’s the source? Serious media? A health organization? Somebody known for spreading conspiracy theories? A popular YouTuber? A political party? An activist group? Don’t share the news unless it comes from reliable sources.  

 

Know your limits

Information on COVID-19 changes fast. New knowledge is accumulating from day to day. Even specialists in the virus can’t predict its behaviour.  

Technical jargon is confusing and hard to follow. Nobody expects you to know everything about the pandemic. So avoid sharing news items you don’t understand. Then you won’t pass on doubtful and even dangerous information. 

 

Be extra careful on certain topics

Con artists are using social media to push quack coronavirus cures and treatments. Also watch out for stories about the origin of the virus.  This is a favourite target for conspiracy theories. So is vaccination.  

 

 

Find a second source

Maybe something looks like really big news. Consult other media. Or check the public health authorities, like the World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada and your provincial government. If nobody else is talking about it, be suspicious. Wait and see if it’s confirmed by other sources.  

 

Does a headline or a news item look fishy? You probably aren’t the only one who’s suspicious. Fact-checkers and scientific journalists may have studied the question. Search for the information on Google and you may stumble onto reliable sources. They have probably debunked the story… or confirmed it.  

 

En anglais : 

BuzzFeed News 

Snopes 

 

In French:  

Détecteur de rumeurs (Agence Science-Presse)  

Les Décrypteurs (Radio-Canada) 

Vérification faite (Le Soleil) 

Venons-en aux faits! (L’actualité) 

Les Décodeurs (Le Monde)

 

 

 

 

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