Ever since I first heard about the current pandemic, it’s felt like I can’t escape news reports, rumors, and health advice about the virus.
It's on the TV! It’s on social media! It’s even in my class chat group! I’m not sure what to believe because there’s so much information and a lot of it sounds like it could be true.
When I don’t know what to do, there’s one person that I know I can turn to: my big sister. I asked her how she can tell what’s real and what’s a hoax and she gave me some good advice. Here’s what she told me:
Source with force!
The first thing to do is check where the news is coming from. Is it from the government or an organization like the World Health Organization (WHO)? (They're an international public health organization, part of the United Nations. We can trust WHO because they have strict standards and always base their publication or statement on extensive research.) If it’s from a news site, is it one you’ve heard of? If you don’t know the source of the information, then it’s a good idea to be skeptical.
Who's the author?
Whenever you read an article, you can check the ‘about the author’ section to read their bio, or you can Google their name to find out who they are and what their credentials are. Be cautious! Just because an author says that they’re a doctor doesn’t mean that they actually are… And even if they are a doctor, they might not be an expert in the field that they’re writing about.
It’s no joke
There are a lot of websites and social media profiles that create fake news as a joke or for entertainment. When you read an article (especially one that seems outrageous!), check to see if the article came from a satire or comedy website or blog.
PRO-TIP: When you’re on Facebook, you might see a notification next to shared links that tells you if an article is a joke or a hoax. Those notifications are trustworthy and a good tool to help you to decipher fact from fiction.
Check it out!
The little details are important. If someone sends you a screencap or a forwarded message, ask them for a link to the original source. If you can’t get the original link, you can still search online to see if you can find the same information or news from reputable sources. If you can’t, there’s a good chance that it’s a hoax.
Now that you have these tips, you can start to spot fake news and help to stop the spread of misinformation. If you see an article or get a message that seems like a hoax, don’t share it and don’t be too shy to tell your friends or relatives that they should stop sharing it, too.