There’s no doubt that over the past few weeks we’ve all been consuming a lot more news to keep up-to-date on the status Covid-19, locally and globally. But, The World Health Organization says that the outbreak has been accompanied by an “infodemic“1:
“An over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it”.
Fake news and misinformation have a fast and far reaching impact, who you share content with can quickly grow from 1 to 1,000 in a matter of seconds in today’s social world. We encourage you to verify before you belive and share!
How can you help to stop the spread of fake news?
- Make sure you only rely on Government approved sites for the latest updates and reported cases on Covid-19 as well as any changes to lockdown regulations.
- If you come across something that seems suspect, do your research. Compare the facts with Government approved sources.
- Report what you see if you are unsure! Any suspicious and fake news can be reported to: https://real411.org.za
- Encourage your friends and family to follow the same practices.
Here is a list of Government approved websites for the latest updates on Covid-19:
- Data free resource portal: https://coronavirus.datafree.co/
For daily updates of countries, territories or areas with reported laboratory confirmed Covid-19 cases, you should refer to:
- World Health Organisation Covid-19 situation reports:
- Coronavirus Covid-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE:
Stay up-to-date on what is being reported as fake news:
Do your own detective work!
Feel more confident in being able to identify fact vs fiction. Here is a summary of top tips recently published by Harvard2 on how to evaluate the trustworthiness of news:
Vet the publisher’s credibility:
- Would the publishing site meet government citation standards?
Just because a site is popular among your friends does not mean its content is accurate.
- Who is the author?
Has he or she published anything else? Be suspicious if the byline, which names the author, is a celebrity writing for a little-known site or if the author’s contact information is a G-mail address.
Pay attention to quality and timeliness:
- Do you notice splling errors, lots of ALL CAPS, or dramatic punctuation?!?!?!
If so, abort your reading mission. Reputable sources have high proofreading and grammatical standards.
- Is the story current or recycled?
Make sure an older story isn’t being taken out of context.
Check the sources and citations:
- Who is (or is not) quoted, and what do they say?
If you notice a glaring lack of quotes and contributing sources, particularly on a complex issue, then something is amiss. Credible journalism is fed by fact-gathering, so a lack of research likely means a lack of fact-based information.
- Is the information available on other sites?
If not, then it’s very likely that the journalistic jury is still out on whether this information is valid.
Ask the pro’s:
- Have you visited a fact-checking website?
Africacheck.org has been fact-checking viral WhatsApp messages, Facebook posts, tweets and news articles in recent weeks. Visit www.africacheck.org to help verify information.
We hope this article was useful and informative. And please remember; stay safe, stay home and help save lives!