The state of our world seems to have changed overnight, leaving questions and uncertainty for us all. The rules on ‘what’s safe’ become narrower on a daily basis. While our news feeds are constantly pinging with urgent updates, there are some steps we can all take to distinguish between what is true or untrue in the media frenzy the pandemic has spurred.

In a recent NPR interview, John Greggory of NewsGuard reports there are three types of misinformation about COVID-19: 

  1. Conspiracies about how the outbreak originated
  2. Bad health ‘cures’
  3. Reports that the outbreak isn’t as bad as the media makes it out to be

Scammers are also taking advantage of the outbreak. The Federal Trade Commission recommends avoiding links, emails, online offers, and requests for donations from unfamiliar sources. There have also been reported cases of scammers calling and claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Social media platforms are notorious for facilitating the spread of misinformation. While big-name social media platforms are stepping up to confront the spread of misinformation, it is up to each of us to decide what we trust and believe.

What can you do to protect yourself from misinformation and scams?

Follow reputable news sources on social media.

Click on the links below to open the social media pages for the following sites. Click ‘Follow’ on these pages. On Facebook, set your preferences to see posts from these pages first.


Be critical of what you see and hear.

After reading a headline or article, ask yourself:

  • Does this make sense with the other news I’ve seen/heard?
  • Does this seem too good to be true?
  • How do I feel when I read this? Does the language incite strong emotions, or does it help me feel informed?
  • Who is the author of this information? Are they someone to trust on this topic?

Look for signs of validity.

Check basic elements of validity before trust (and sharing) an article:

  • Look for the date the article was published. If the article is outdated or has no date at all, look for current news on the topic.
  • Investigate the author. If there is no information available on the author (or no author listed at all), look for news on the topic from a reputable source.
  • Check for bias of the source reporting the news. Consult reputable news sources for unbiased information.
  • Compare the claims against those of other sources. If there are no reputable sources supporting the claim, don’t take it as fact.

Diversify your news sources.

When you come across a news article that makes a bold statement or provokes a strong emotional response, take a moment to check how other news sources are addressing the topic. When in doubt, defer to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for factual information on COVID-19.

Defer to expert fact-checkers.

Consult news sources dedicated to sharing and checking the facts: WHO Myth Busters, CDC Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19, FactCheck.org, Poynter Fact-Checking, PolitiFact, Snopes.com


References and additional information:

  1. https://www.summer.harvard.edu/inside-summer/4-tips-spotting-fake-news-story

  2. https://time.com/5803936/coronavirus-misinformation/

  3. https://www.npr.org/2019/10/29/774541010/fake-news-is-scary-heres-how-to-spot-misinformation

  4. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615184/the-coronavirus-is-the-first-true-social-media-infodemic/

  5. https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/1/31/21115589/coronavirus-wuhan-china-myths-hoaxes-facebook-social-media-tiktok-twitter-wechat

  6. https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/03/19/coronavirus-covid-19-misinformation-social-media-facebook-youtube-instagram/2870277001/

About Author
Randi Knox

Randi is a Membership Clerk at Do Space