A lot of us are researching and finding information about COVID-19 online. For many of us, the internet, social media platforms and networks have now become our main sources of news, information and communication.
New technologies allow us to access news and information quickly. They enable us to know what is happening in real time and take immediate measures to ensure our safety and well being.
However, we also need to be aware of fake news, unverified information and disinformation online. We cannot always be certain about the accuracy and trustworthiness of the news and information we receive and subsequently share.
In the past, we were only able to access news and information from broadcast or print media. We were less likely to come across fake news, unverified information and disinformation as broadcast and print media are regulated to ensure they abide by certain standards and practises.
However, in the last 15 to 20 years, there has been an emergence of new technologies which has to led to the creation of social media platforms and networks. These new platforms and networks are not regulated in the same way as broadcast and print media which has led to problems of users creating, uploading and sharing fake news, unverified information and disinformation.
It is important that are able to recognise and prevent the dissemination of fake news, unverified information and disinformation.
We should therefore always be careful and:
• Share content only from outlets and sites that we trust or are familiar with
• Before sharing, check that content is curent and not recycled
• Investigate what you are reading or seeing
• Compare content with similar content produced by established and factual news outlets and websites
• Check for quotes and quality of the content including consistency, spelling and formatting of content
• Research the creator/author and check for other content created by him/her
• Before resharing, make sure you know and trust the person that shared the content with you
We need to ensure that we are only sharing factual news and information if we want to make sure that we prevent an escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic and prolongation of the social distancing.