As many can attest, the spread of misinformation –including information that is false or inaccurate and deliberately intended to deceive – can be dangerous, especially when it comes to our health and well-being. For example, recent research suggests that in the first three months of 2020, nearly 6,000 people around the world were hospitalized because of COVID-19 misinformation. The problem with misinformation is that after someone has heard and believes it as a fact, it can be incredibly hard to correct, making misinformation a challenging risk in the fight against the pandemic.
Particularly considering that the internet and social media have given rise to information faster than ever before, people don’t take the time to verify the information they’re reading is accurate. Consider these recent headlines, “More Than 200 Facebook Groups Have Been Actively Circulating Coronavirus Vaccine Misinformation” and “Facebook and YouTube spent a year fighting covid misinformation. It’s still spreading.” The spread of misinformation can create confusion and misunderstanding around important information surroundingCOVID-19 testing, vaccines, the effectiveness of social distancing, masks, and more.
Interestingly, only two in 10 Americans say they’re concerned that they have personally spread misinformation. When we surf the web or scroll on our feeds, we should all make a habit of verifying the information we share and read online to distinguish between misinformation and facts.
To understand why and how misinformation is proliferating on the web, it’s important to understand how social media platforms’ algorithms work.The content-recommendation algorithm – the algorithm that controls what you see in your feed – is designed to boost content that engages the most people.
Due to the nature of social networks, and the curious human nature, outrageous headlines tend to grab attention online. These headlines are known as “clickbait” and are designed to grab attention to entice users to click them by being provocative and deceptive, ultimately driving engagement.
Unfortunately, the algorithm doesn’t “know” if the content is accurate or not. As long as people click on it, the algorithm will continue to spread the content to more feeds and continue the spread of misinformation.
The simplest way to verify whether something you read online is accurate or not, is to check to see if it’s from a credible outlet, who wrote it, what their credentials are and how they got their information.
If a person makes a claim but doesn’t provide a verifiable source for it, it should be taken with a grain of salt. Common warning signs include general phrases like, “many people say,” “it has been written in many places,”“it is known that” and “I’ve heard.”
Only information by an author or organization that uses credible sources should be taken seriously. In today’s fast-paced, digital world, it’s important to look at what you’re reading online with a critical eye and take the time to verify that it’s accurate.
Luckily, there are many organizations working tirelessly to fight misinformation about COVID-19 and bring us timely updates about the COVID-19pandemic. Below are a handful of sources we’ve found to be reliable, including:
· Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The CDC is the national public health federal agency of the U.S.that provides ongoing updates and general data about COVID-19.
· National Institutes of Health (NIH): The NIH has a dedicated COVID webpage that shares updates on all things COVID and ongoing research initiatives across the country.
· Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The FDA is a federal agency of the department of Health and HumanServices of the U.S. government. Their website houses educational resources, guidance and industry news about COVID-19.
· World Health Organization (WHO): WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. You can find ongoing updates and general data about COVID-19 on their website ,including updates on vaccines, information on common COVID myths and travel advice.
· Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA): JAMA is a peer-reviewed medical journal that publishes original research, reviews and editorials. Their Coronavirus Research Center hosts papers and studies around the pandemic.
· Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center: Since COVID began, the Johns HopkinsCoronavirus Resource Center has shared clear statistics and infographics on all things COVID-19.
· The New York Times: The New York Times has made their COVID-19 content free for the public. The NewYork Times COVID-19 section covers all thingsCOVID from vaccines, trackers and travel updates.
· Google’s COVID-19 Research Page: Google has compiled information on COVID case counts, vaccine rates and top news across the world.
At Intrivo, our mission is freedom through knowledge. We’re committed to sharing accurate and up-to-date information surrounding the pandemic and delivering solutions, like On/Go, our rapid COVID-19 antigen self-test, to help individuals and organizations get back to doing the things they love.
To learn more, please visit: https://www.letsongo.com/.