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'Don't unfriend, but do check': How to handle COVID-19 misinformation online
EDMONTON -- The amount of misinformation available online is staggering and it's constantly being shared and spread.
Now there's a way to find out what is real and what is nonsense using a new program called 'Check Then Share.'
"There's good science that suggests if you can just nudge people to think about accuracy, to pause before they share, we can have a real impact on the spread of misinformation which has become a huge issue in the context of the coronavirus," University of Alberta professor Timothy Caulfield said on CTV Morning Live Edmonton.
The campaign asks people to use an evidence-based approach to decide if the information is factual. Check where the information came from, check that it's from a trusted, credible source and check what public health authorities and governments are saying about it.
And once you've confirmed all of that checks out, you can confidently share it online.
According to Media Smarts, "sharing good content helps crowd out the fakes."
"Research that suggests when times are uncertain, when there's a lot of fear, when the science is still evolving, that creates really fertile ground for conspiracy theories and for misinformation to fill in the gaps," Caulfield explained. "People want a complete story about what's going on and conspiracy theories can offer that."
If someone you know is sharing misinformation online, he suggests telling them.
"Don’t unfriend, but do check. Check before you share," Caulfield said.
"I think it is a good idea to point them to a trusted source, to point out the breakdowns in logic," he added. "Studies show if you do that you can have an impact, and suggest there's better evidence out there."
MediaSmarts is a not-for-profit organization focused on digital and media literacy.