The comic above illustrates a common situation about why we believe certain things without verifying them, but given the seriousness of our current health situation, a bit more consideration is needed. Misinformation, scams, and rumors surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are easily found on the Internet. Luckily, there are reliable websites to visit and tips to use to discern the trustworthiness of something you hear or see. The San Diego City Attorney’s Office maintains a web page on COVID-19 scams that happen over the phone or by email. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also has a site that brings to light scams by text and offers advice such as, “Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.”
Just as we are practicing good personal hygiene in the time of coronavirus by being more aware of what surfaces we touch and the people we come into contact with, we can also practice good fact hygiene. To practice good fact hygiene, take notice of what news sources you are listening to, watching, or reading. We know to nourish our bodies with healthy food and to place limits on food intake; do the same when consuming news. Be selective. Setting time limits can help reduce anxiety.
We’re also responsible for the information we spread. We know to cover our coughs and sneezes and can think similarly about how we spread information to other people via email, by phone, or through social media. Did we stop to critically assess or verify the truth before we forwarded a link or retold information? Did we stop to consider if the info we shared came from an expert, like Dr. Anthony Fauci or a Word Health Organization official, or was it a nonexpert’s opinion? Just taking a moment to consider these questions can stop half-truths and inaccuracies from being passed along. This cat comic helps explain the spread of misinformation and how everyone can do his or her part to stop it.
Other sites that help dispel rumors and myths surrounding the coronavirus are:
- FEMA Addresses Coronavirus Rumors
- WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters
- How to Avoid Misinformation About COVID-19
- Evaluating Health Info on the Internet Checklist