Tips to avoid online misinformation during the coronavirus crisis
Given the climate of uncertainty created by the rapid expansion of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, it is becoming increasingly relevant to recognize reliable information and avoid spreading online. These are some of the tips provided by UNESCO to achieve this.
Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is a concept developed by UNESCO that brings together a combined set of competencies (knowledge, skills and attitude) necessary to search for, critically evaluate, and appropriately use content published by the mass media. These skills have become particularly relevant today, in a context of fake news, unverified information and outright fabrications that have become pervasive in this context of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
UNESCO’s goal with the creation of the ‘MIL citizen’ concept is to boost media and information literacy levels, empowering individuals to become the best line of defense against misinformation.
Tips to become a MIL citizen
In its report entitled Media and Information Literacy curriculum for teachers, UNESCO details a series of actions that individuals can implement on a daily basis to become responsible information consumers:
- When consuming content from an unknown media source, try to check its veracity.
- When reading a specific piece of information, try to identify the sources.
- Be familiar with the different information channels available today, and the main information providers.
- Double-check information with other reputable media sources.
- Do not share content on social media without verifying the veracity and quality thereof.
- Report fake information you find on social media websites to their administrators.
- Identify when an article is sponsored.
- Learn about the different national and international initiatives that institutions and governments are promoting to fight fake news.
Reliable sources of information
In short, raising awareness about this type of content, it is possible to fight against fake news. And everyone can contribute to this fight, identifying and refraining from disseminating misleading articles.
When the veracity of a piece of information, audio clips or articles received through channels like WhatsApp cannot be established, it is advisable to turn to reliable sources. There are trustworthy news and media websites in every country that users can turn to for accurate and verifiable reports about the pandemic and thus contribute to slow down the dissemination of false information.
On a global scale, a verified source of information is the section devoted by the World Health Organization on its website to dispel doubts concerning the information and fabrications surrounding the virus and its contagion.
In Spain, Maldita.es is a website run by journalists that strives to disprove fake news published online. This platform also devotes a special section to the coronavirus, where it informs about the misleading information identified and debunked by the organization in recent weeks (more than 230 as of today).
Maldita.es also offers a list of responsible and reliable Spanish news sources that citizens can trust to cover their coronavirus-related information needs:
- Ministry of Health
- World Health Organization
- European Center for Disease Prevention and Control
- National Police
- Guardia Civil
- Public Health Government of Spain
If you want to find out the best ways to protect yourself online during the COVID-19 crisis, read the following articles: