Why You Can’t Believe Everything You Read

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, seems to be the only thing in the news these days. You can’t go on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter without your feed being covered in coronavirus stories. From an online content perspective, this makes sense. Coronavirus is a global pandemic, and those don’t happen too often. When one does, it’s logical that information outlets of any kind will report on updates regarding the virus and its spread. That being said, the production and spreading of incorrect information regarding the virus still exists, and you need to watch what you are reading online.

There has been a lot of talk about false information over the past few months, mostly regarding the impending presidential election. It was not, and still is not to a certain extent, uncommon to see false claims about presidential candidates and their policies. This forced news-sharing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to take action and attempt to get rid of as much untrue information on their platforms as they could. Now, it looks like they have to be on the lookout again.

The Twitter Safety account announced on March 18 that the platform was updating its safety rules to include “content that could place people at a high risk of transmitting COVID-19.” The account explained that the aforementioned content included “denial of expert guidance,” “encouragement to use fake or ineffective treatments, preventions, and diagnostic techniques,” and “misleading content purporting to be from experts or authorities.”

About a week ago, screen shots from an iPhone listing alleged symptoms and treatments for coronavirus went viral on Twitter. Within days, the information was proven to be mostly – if not completely – false by medical experts. Since deleted, the tweet still managed to reach hundreds of thousands of people by the time it was proven false. A lot of information exists on the internet, and tons of new content is created every day. During times of panic and uncertainty, we cannot accept everything we read as fact. If you read something online about coronavirus that you believe should be shared, do a little bit of research before doing so. This is a global issue, so staying informed is now more important than ever.