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Recognizing COVID-19 Misinformation - a pop-up info lit mini-course : COVID-19 & Information Literacy

Examples of disordered COVID-19 information

Rebecca Cotton (2020) shares this example:

Some disinformation is entirely false and fabricated, like this “news” article claiming Pope Francis has coronavirus. As this twitter user points out, the domain was registered several years ago in China and suddenly changed a couple of days previously.

twitter post about a fake news story regarding the pope and coronavirus from February 2020
Source: https://twitter.com/cindyotis_/status/123377169646268416 

In July 2020, a video spreading misinformation about COVID-19 treatment and mask wearing was shared on social media. Even though Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube worked to remove the video, it was shared and viewed millions of times in the few hours it was available.

Other misinformation may be shared accidentally because the person posting it feels it is true. Fortunately, this is often debunked by legitimate media outlets and health organizations. 

A UNESCO tweet from March 2020 about coronavirus misinformation.

Automated or "bot" content is another form of misinformation. Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science released a report in May 2020 about how bots spread discontent by creating the impression that people are upset or disagree about COVID-19 reopening plans in the U.S. 

Want to get better at spotting dis and misinformation? Read this excellent overview of The Simplest Way to Spot Coronavirus Misinformation on Social Media. It outlines Mike Caulfield's SIFT method for assessing digital information.

Read the boxes on the right to learn how to assess information, spot various kinds of dis and misinformation, and find accurate COVID-19 info when you need it. 

Cotton, R., 2020. Misinformation, Disinformation, Fake News: Why Do We Care? Office of Government Relations, Episcopal Church [online ] Available at: https://tinyurl.com/rut5kql [Accessed 3 April 2020].

Empower yourself with information literacy

Learning to find, assess, and use information to answer your questions is a powerful antidote to misinformation.

1. First, educate yourself about misinformation and COVID-19 (see links, below).

2. Second, learn First Draft's SHEEP method of analyzing social media information (see infographic below).

3. Third, strengthen your own information literacy:

General info lit resources:

  • Review MCC's Evaluating Information guide.
  • Try the SIFT method at Mike Caulfield's Infodemic blog -- Stop, Investigate the Source, Find Better Coverage, Trace Claims, Quotes & Media to their original source. 
  • Visit UC Berkeley library's helpful guide to Weeding Out BS (Bad Sources) and learn to avoid "falling victim to BS" by considering the source, the context, and the platform where the information is being shared. 

Health & science info lit sources:

 

COVID & science or health misinformation

Bots & spotting BS (bad sources)

Vaccine misinformation 

Sheep stands for Source (Who is the source?), History (what is this source's agenda in past posts),  Evidence (is this factual, where does their evidence come from?), Emotion (is the post meant to inflame, excite, etc.),  Pictures (how are they being used? are they manipulated?)iFrst Draft News, 2019. Don't get tricked by online information. [online] Available at: https://firstdraftnews.org/latest/information-disorder-the-techniques-we-saw-in-2016-have-evolved/ [Accessed: 3 April 2020].

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