Coronavirus misinformation is flooding the web and consultants are calling on the general public to observe “information hygiene”. What can you do to stop the unfold of bad information?

1. Stop and suppose

You need to assist household and pals and preserve them within the loop. So when you obtain contemporary recommendation – whether or not by electronic mail, WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter – you may rapidly ahead it on to them.

But consultants say the primary factor you can do to halt misinformation is to easily stop and suppose.

If you have any doubts, pause, and test it out additional.

2. Check your supply

Before you ahead it on, ask some primary questions on the place the information comes from.

It’s an enormous pink flag if the supply is “a friend of a friend” or “my aunt’s colleague’s neighbour”.

We lately tracked how a deceptive submit from somebody’s “uncle with a master’s degree” went viral.

Some of the small print within the submit had been correct – some variations, for instance, inspired hand washing to sluggish the unfold of the virus. But different particulars had been doubtlessly dangerous, making unproven claims about how to diagnose the sickness.

“The most reliable sources of information remain public health bodies like the NHS, the World Health Organisation, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA.” says Claire Milne, deputy editor of UK-based mostly reality-checking organisation Full Fact.

Experts should not infallible. But they’re much extra dependable than a stranger’s distant relative on WhatsApp.

More coronavirus myths to disregard
Who do you belief for well being recommendation?

three. Could it’s a pretend?

Appearances can be misleading.

It is feasible to impersonate official accounts and authorities, together with BBC News and the federal government. Screenshots can even be modified to make it seem like information has come from a trusted public physique.

Check recognized and verified accounts and web sites. If you can’t simply discover the information, it may be a hoax. And if a submit, video or a hyperlink seems to be fishy – it most likely is.

Capital letters and mismatched fonts are one thing reality-checkers use as an indicator a submit may be deceptive, in keeping with Claire Milne from Full Fact.

four. Unsure whether or not it is true? Don’t share

Don’t ahead issues on “just in case” they may be true. You may be doing extra hurt than good.

Often we submit issues into locations the place we all know there are consultants – like docs or medical professionals. That may be OK, however make sure that you’re very clear about your doubts. And beware – that picture or textual content you share may later be stripped of its context.

5. Check every reality, individually

There’s a voice be aware that has been circulating on WhatsApp. The individual talking within the be aware says she’s translating recommendation from a “colleague who has a friend” working at a hospital. It’s been despatched to the BBC by dozens of individuals around the globe.

But it is a mixture of correct and inaccurate recommendation.

When you get despatched lengthy lists of recommendation, it is easy to consider the whole lot in them simply because you know for sure that one of many ideas (say, about hand washing) is true.

But that is not at all times the case.

Italy sees speedy unfold of faux information
What misinformation has unfold in Africa?

6. Beware emotional posts

It’s the stuff that will get us fearful, offended, anxious, or joyful that tends to actually go viral.

“Fear is one of the biggest drivers that allows misinformation to thrive,” says Claire Wardle of First Draft, an organisation that helps journalists sort out on-line misinformation.

Urgent requires motion are designed to ramp up nervousness – so watch out.

“People want to help their loved ones stay safe, so when they see ‘Tips for preventing the virus!’ or ‘Take this health supplement!’ people want to do whatever they can to help,” she says.

How bad information goes viral

7. Think about biases

Are you sharing one thing as a result of you know it is true – or simply as a result of you agree with it?

Carl Miller, analysis director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at suppose tank Demos, says we’re extra more likely to share posts that reinforce our current beliefs.

“It’s when we’re angrily nodding our head that we’re most vulnerable,” he says. “That’s when, above everything else, we just need to slow down everything that we do online.”

Learn extra about media literacy:

Have you seen deceptive information – or one thing you have doubts about?

With extra reporting from BBC Monitoring

Follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, discover us on Facebook or subscribe to the BBC Trending podcast. All our tales are at