Spotting COVID-19 Misinformation

Recently, the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Social Media Lab for Research & Engagement within the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media released ten tips for spotting COVID-10 misinformation which I’ve decided to share this week. The authors, Jeremy Harris Lipschultz, Ph.D., and Adam Tyma, Ph.D. shared ten tips to help you be better informed reader of online media.

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The tips are as follows:

  1. Check the source of the social media post: Do you know and trust it as a source of truthful and reliable information?
  2. Only trust experts. Now is not the time to trust this pundit or that pundit, this media celebrity or that YouTuber. If it’s not coming from the CDC or WHO (or, locally, UNMC), walk away.
  3. Check the date: Is this a recent story, or from a long time ago?
  4. Does the message seem credible to you? Is it consistent with other stories? Does it fit with your experiences?
  5. Who shared the post in your newsfeed? Do you know the person? Have they always shared reliable information?
  6. If there is a photograph, does it look real, or could it be doctored?
  7. If there is a video, does it show any possible signs of being edited?
  8. More broadly, is the language in the post boring/objective or is it exciting/subjective? Often, the way the post is written is meant to get you to click without thinking because it might align with your own beliefs.
  9. A good test: right click the link or image to see what the actual URL is. If it does not come from the place that it claims to come from (look for weird letters at the end like .ru, .cn, or others that just seem off), don’t go to it. A URL that ends with .com, .org, .net, or .gov are typically more trustworthy.
  10. Take this time to slow down and reflect on what you know. There is no need to rush to judgment.

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