A Handy List of Reputable Coronavirus Information
And how to spot disinformation online
Originally I was taking this week off from the newsletter, but a bunch of you have emailed me this week asking me how to spot and debunk Corona-related disinformation, or where to find reputable information about the virus. What put me over the edge however was a phone conversation with a nurse in preparation for an upcoming medical appointment. She asked what I did for a living and when I told her she immediately asked where to find good information and how to spot disinformation. Apparently she’s not getting any guidance at work beyond being told to check the CDC website.
If an experienced nurse working in a top-notch hospital is struggling to parse out true information from disinformation and propaganda, the rest of us are clearly going to need help as well. Here are a few resources to get you started.
Sources of Reputable Information
Center for Disease Control This one is obvious but it remains the best place to find reputable information about the virus, what you should be doing, and the U.S. Federal Government’s response to the pandemic.
World Health Organization The WHO offers daily updates on the pandemic, guidance, and data on the spread. I find their dashboard that shows confirmed cases on a world map to be especially helpful for contextualizing the scale of this.
Flatten the Curve A hub for information and a call to action, Flatten the Curve, curated by Julie McMurray, MPH is a fantastic mix of data and practical precautions. It also does the best job of explaining the collective action required to curb the spread of Coronavirus that I’ve seen yet.
Twitter List of Experts Want to follow relevant experts on social media? There are several Twitter lists floating around but I like this one from Jeff Jarvis in particular. Honorable mention to Julie McMurray of Flatten the Curve’s Twitter list.
Pinterest? Yes, really. Per Buzzfeed’s Craig Silverman “What you see when you search for coronavirus or COVID-19 on Pinterest: “we’ve limited search results to Pins from internationally-recognized health organizations.”” If you’re going to search social media for information (proceed with extreme caution if so!), Pinterest is your most curated option.
Resources For Spotting and Debunking Disinformation Online
Sifting Through the Pandemic Mike Caufield’s simple and effective method for how to gut check information you see online is the easiest method I’ve seen to learn, and has never been more relevant. Mike has updated this post specifically for Coronavirus.
FirstDraft Resources for Reporters A ton of resources, compiled with journalists in mind, but of use to anyone. Includes a searchable archive of Coronavirus debunks and a primer of helpful articles about Coronavirus. For non-reporters, FirstDraft has a blog post of 5 quick ways we can all double-check coronavirus information online.
Media Matters Media Matters is tracking disinformation from several angles but it’s hands down the best research for debunking what your right-wing uncle consumes on Fox News and other pro-MAGA news sources.
Jane Lytvynenko A reporter for Buzzfeed, Jane tracks disinformation about world events in real-time both on her Twitter account and in articles she files. I confess that my first step in verifying if information is false is often just going to Jane’s Twitter feed to see if she’s on top of it. 99.9% of the time, she is.
How Millennials Are Talking To Their Boomer Relatives About The Coronavirus If you have a relative or someone in your life who still isn’t taking the pandemic seriously, conversations trying to persuade them to do so can be tough. This article from Buzzfeed’s Anne Helen Peterson is the most helpful piece I’ve seen for those struggling with this.
Fight Against Coronavirus Misinformation Shows What Big Tech Can Do When It Really Tries I’m quoted in this article but it’s helpful for putting Tech’s response to Coronavirus disinformation into context. Moving forward, we have a good idea of what Tech can actually do when it’s motivated to take down false content, and what gaps we still need solutions to.
One more thing, if you’re not sure if something is accurate information please don’t share it. We’re all prone to doing this, and I’ll cop up to sharing a feel-good story about Tom Hanks in quarantine before learning that it was intended as satire just yesterday. But the Internet is awash with Coronavirus related disinformation and propaganda, much of which potentially puts vulnerable populations and people at risk. One of the best ways you can help #FlattenTheCurve is to do extra diligence before sharing or opt not to share anything at all.
The above article is an excerpt from Ctrl Alt-Right Delete, a newsletter devoted to covering the rise of far-right extremism, white nationalism, disinformation, and online toxicity, delivered on a weekly basis to more than 16,000 subscribers.