A Step-by-Step Guide to Verifying COVID-19 Information on Facebook
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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate worldwide, it is more important than ever that people be aware of what they are sharing online. Unverified or false information creates confusion and, in the worst-case scenario, can cause unnecessary fear and panic.
Each of us has a responsibility to help reduce the spread of misinformation by ensuring that we only share information that we have verified to be true.Facebook shares five simple steps to check information in your feed before hitting share:
Step 1: Inspect the post
Take note of the title. False news tends to have sensational headlines and use catchy tactics such as ALL CAPSULES or excessive EXCLAMATION POINTS !!!!!! Titles that are too dramatic or those with shocking claims that seem too good to be true probably are – too good to be true.
Make a note of the website name and URL. URLs or names of questionable websites often try to mimic those of authentic news sites with tiny changes like a capital “I” for a lowercase “L” or a null “0” for an “o”. If you’re not sure, open a new browser window and navigate to the actual site, then compare the actual URL with the other to determine if it is credible.
Step 2: Investigate the site
If you have decided to follow the link, see the article page. Check the author’s name – is it a credible source of information? What other stories has this author written? It is also a good idea to visit the “About” section of the website to learn more about the site or organization.
Also be on the lookout for inconsistencies with publication dates or story timelines, weird or awkward formatting, awkward layouts, and misspellings, as fake news sites don’t often lend pay no attention to details like these. Be skeptical of photos or videos that also appear to be manipulated.
Step 3: Take note of the people quoted in the story
When experts are cited or even cited in an article but left unnamed, “a high-level expert says …” this may be a sign of false news. Check whether the sources, other articles or studies to which the author has referred are correct.
Step 4: Compare with other headlines or stories
Do a quick scan if other news sources are reporting the story and check the data points with credible sources. The story is more likely to be true if several credible sources also report it.
Step 5: Get the latest and official information on COVID-19
So you can rest assured that you are reading and sharing legitimate and accurate information, refer directly to the following for updates.
- World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 page
- Facebook Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Center for Pakistan
- WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub
- Pakistani government website for COVID-19
- NHSRC Messenger Automated Experience Chat Bot
At the end of the day, you need to think critically about what you read online and only share the news that you know, or really believe, to be credible. Use the guide above as a starting point.
If you find a message to be fake news on Facebook, please report it by clicking on the top right of the message, clicking Find Support or Report Message, and then flagging it as fake news.