The coronavirus pandemic isn’t the only thing spreading around the world right now. Fake news, misinformation and rumors are wildly circulating on social media, and it’s making a coordinated response to the virus much harder to achieve.
This isn’t the first time fake coronavirus stories have trended on social media. Since the outbreak’s beginning, strange rumors and accusations have flooded the internet and sowed confusion. Tap or click to see some of the most popular fake stories.
But just because there’s an epidemic of fake news doesn’t mean all online sources are bad. Here are some of the most accurate Twitter news feeds you can follow for up-to-date information on the state of the pandemic.
1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Join CDC for a Q&A on #COVID19. CDC Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases, Dr. Jay Butler, will answer questions about #coronavirus this Friday, March 13. Tap the button below to send your question #askCDC— CDC (@CDCgov) March 11, 2020
The CDC’s official Twitter account has been a light in the dark for many Americans during this unusual time in our history. Not only does the organization provide frequently updated statistics on the outbreak, but it also issues guidelines on how to stay safe and protect yourself.
The agency even offers Q&A sessions on Twitter, where you can ask medical professionals your most urgent coronavirus questions.
2. The World Health Organization
For a global perspective on the state of the outbreak, it’s worth giving the official WHO Twitter account a follow. The organization has been handling the international response to the crisis and has current, reliable information on disease statistics in other nations.
You’ll also get frequent briefings from the organization when a shift occurs in the spread of the disease, such as when the WHO officially declared the coronavirus a pandemic.
3. Your local health and safety departments
Know the difference in symptoms. If you’re feeling sick, call your doctor first, before going in. Learn more on our website: https://t.co/vg4tN6d7vM #COVID19 #COVID19OhioReady pic.twitter.com/wfGPoYRLvC— Ohio Dept of Health (@OHdeptofhealth) March 13, 2020
In the United States, much of the response to the coronavirus will occur at the local level. This is thanks to the nature of our government as federation of states with their own authority figures and health organizations.
But this does hold an advantage for citizens: Your local response to the crisis will be tailored to the needs of your region. That’s why it’s absolutely worth following local health and safety sources for rapid, up-to-date information on local clusters and outbreaks.
4. Local school districts
State’s Two Largest School Districts Announce Plans to Prevent Spread of COVID-19 https://t.co/YR2l4ULpfj— L.A. Unified (@LASchools) March 13, 2020
The safety of our kids is a paramount concern during this epidemic. Even though children seem to mostly be safe from the worst of the virus, it’s still important to make sure they’re not in a position to acquire or spread the disease.
If you have kids or grandkids, consider following your local school districts for the most current information on school closures in your area. This will help you coordinate care schedules and will clue you in to the severity of an outbreak in your area.
If you’re a college student, it’s also critical you follow your school’s Twitter account to make sure you’re up-to-speed on class cancellations, restrictions and important dates.
What not to follow: Trending topics, hashtags and sketchy books on Amazon
In addition to knowing what accounts are worth following, you should know what to avoid. Bad actors are systematically trying to spread false information on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and the way these apps are structured makes it all too easy.
If you see trending hashtags like #COVID-19 or #coronapocalypse on Twitter, these are not reliable sources to follow. A hashtag just indicates a trending topic of discussion, and literally anyone can put it in their post to be added to the feed.
This is one way governments like Russia spread disinformation. Tap or click here to see what Russian trolls do on social media.
Some outlets like Amazon are also rampantly fighting misinformation and the abuse of their platform. One particular bestselling book on Amazon titled “Coronavirus: Everything You Need to Know About the Wuhan Corona Virus and How to Prevent It,” was actually revealed to be a forgery.
According to reports from NBC News, entire passages of the book were blatantly plagiarized from NBC’s own reporting, as well as a Chinese law blog.
Thankfully, Amazon isn’t taking all the fakery lying down and has already begun removing fake coronavirus cures and quack medical products from its listings. Tap or click here to see what Amazon is doing with fake products.
In the end, the information you find online is only as good as its source. If you’re not checking reliable sources for the latest information on this disease, you might as well be listening to rumors from friends.
Stay safe, stay healthy and above all, don’t spread stories you’re not 100% sure about. The only thing worse than a viral epidemic is one where people have no idea what’s actually happening.