The wildfire in Australia, which started in July 2019, spread so quickly that it killed more than 3 billion animals and scorched almost 46 million acres of land, becoming one of the world's worst natural disasters. Misinformation on social media is just like wildfire. It spreads quickly, and causes unimaginable damage.
Similarly, COVID19 misinformation began spreading on social media, and according to experts, causes more damage than good. People, therefore, need to be alert when sharing any coronavirus related information from social media.
Pause and Ponder Before Posting
If you come across an article or post with a fancy or crazy headline, pause before you share it. Most of these posts try to trigger emotional responses.
If you receive a scary, alarming, or unbelievable article or post, take the time to review its credibility. One tip: misinformation sounds incredible and hard to believe. Before trusting anything you read on social media as fact, ask how it makes you feel, think about the source and whether or not you need to do more research on the topic to feel more comfortable.
Check Your Source Before Sharing
One of the biggest problems that people face when they encounter misinformation is that they do not check it before sharing it with others. If you do not want to spread rumors or misinformation, always check for facts before sharing with others.
Ask yourself: Is the source of this article/post/meme reliable? Then answer your own question with further research.
If the website seems dubious, verify the information from other credible sites until you disprove or prove the information. Choose government, highly regarded community or scientific organization websites. For example, in the case of COVID-19, you might use the World Health Organization (WHO), or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) instead of Face Book accounts of individuals or unknown organizations. Only after confirming your facts, share them with others. If you do not have that much time, try to avoid sharing any information until you research further, unless you are already an expert, or very knowledgeable about the topic.
Alert People Spreading Misinformation
If you find any information that is not credible, you must alert those people that are circulating it. Do it courteously to allow them to correct themselves. Share the article that debunks their information along with your reply. Many people are ready to make changes once they know that they are spreading misinformation.
Misinformation on social media can cause so much confusion, so plan on reporting it on the same social media site where you encountered it. Most platforms have an option for users to flag or report inappropriate or false posts. The best part is that the WHO has a dedicated page where people can report spreading misinformation.
Stop Misinformation From Spreading Like Wildfire
Once you know that a post or an article is not correct, let others also know the truth. Many people think that telling the truth is a waste of their time, but you can do so much good when you choose to stand up for what's right. Don't forget the analogy of misinformation on social media causing damage like the wildfires in Australia.