Be Informed, Not Misled
Recently, we’ve had to grapple with the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, there’s another pandemic going on in the background. One we’ve had to fight for generations but seems to be more prevalent than ever: misinformation.
The invention of the COVID-19 vaccine and a surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths countrywide has resulted in some resorting to spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories through both social media and word of mouth.
Now, more than ever, it’s important we all ask ourselves: How do I know that what I am listening to or reading is true and correct?
Well, according to MindTools, here is what you can do:
Develop a Critical Mindset: Fake news is often believable, and much of it creates shock value. Therefore we must keep our emotional responses in check by putting on our “thinking hats” and looking at things from an objective perspective.
Check the Source: If you find information from a source you have never heard of before, do some investigating. Sources need to be credible, not convenient.
See Who Else Is Reporting the Story: Ask yourself, What do other sources say about it? Professional Agencies such as eNCA, Newzroom Afrika and SABC usually have rigorous editorial guidelines and extensive networks of highly trained reporters. Observing such agencies would be a great place to start. Be aware that not all news companies are credible, however.
Examine the Evidence: A credible story will include abundant facts, quotes from experts, survey data and official statistics. If this criterion is missing, then there might be a red flag. Make use of tools such as Google Fact Check Tools to check if the story is credible.
Don’t Take Images at Face Value: Technology has made it easy for people to create fake images that look real. Make use of tools such as Google Reverse Image Search to check the authenticity of an image by seeing if it’s been reposted from somewhere else online.
Check That it “Sounds Right”: If it is too good to be true, then it is. Therefore, always use common sense.
Common courtesy, love and compassion go a long way; therefore, we urge the public to keep in mind the advice given above before clicking the send button or icon. By doing that, we not only save ourselves, but we save others from harmful misinformation.