This guide adapted from the original resource: "How can I spot misinformation about the coronavirus and COVID-19?" by the Gerstein Science Information Centre, University of Toronto Libraries used under CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0. Adaptations and additions made by librarians Andrea Baer, Dan Kipnis, and Ben Saracco (Rowan University Libraries).
Why a guide on Covid-19 and misinformation?
Every day there’s new and sometimes conflicting information and research coming out about COVID-19 origins, prevention, symptoms, treatments, and potential cures or vaccines. Unfortunately, medical misinformation is spreading even faster. This issue has become great enough that the U.S. Surgeon General issued this advisory, Confronting Health Misinformation: The U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory on Building a Healthy Information Environment. Sometimes, scientific studies are badly misinterpreted. At other times, information is more deceptive or blatantly wrong. Buying into misinformation could lead to dangerous consequences for your health and the health of your loved ones.
The next time someone shares a COVID-19 ‘fact’ via text, social media, or clickbait, verify it before you share it! The tips can help you protect yourself from the COVID-19 infodemic
This first page includes key evaluation strategies and resources. The next three pages offer tips for evaluating information in particular source formats (social media, news articles, scholarly articles). Finally, Evaluating Online Sources Guide goes to a separate guide relevant to evaluating online sources on any topic.
Image credit: "Misinformation" by 3dpete is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
Here are ways to read beyond the headline (or copied + pasted Facebook post):
Pro tip: Double check the study that’s being cited to see if it’s been red-flagged in Retraction Watch’s COVID-19 section.
Pro tip: Fact check the statement using non-partisan sites like FactsCan or FactCheck.org.
Pro tip: Use a reverse image search engine to figure out if it’s been altered or taken out of context, with tools like Google Reverse Image Search, TinEye, YouTube Data, or Serelay.
(L: Screenshot of a forwarded WhatsApp message of a purported memo sent by a Stanford Hospital board member (March 13, 2020); R: Tweet from Stanford University refuting the hoax message (March 13, 2020))
Pro tip: Search for the expert’s name along with keywords like ‘retraction’, ‘fabrication’, ‘falsified data’, ‘scientific misconduct’, ‘pseudoscience’ or ‘conspiracy theory.’
Verify what fact-checking organizations say. These sites focus specifically on COVID-19 information:
Image credit: "Check mark" by All Reverse Mortgage is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Confirm the CURRENT medical evidence from authoritative health-focused sites:
Additional resources are featured at: