Combatting Covid-19 misinformation
In these challenging times, people understandably want to keep up to date with the latest developments in the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
But given the false claims about Covid-19 circulating online, some people are struggling to know who or what to believe.
Access to accurate, trustworthy and credible sources of news and information has never been more important. So, with the support of Ofcom’s Making Sense of Media Panel and Network, we’ve collected a set of resources to help cut through the confusion and provide people with the tools to navigate news and information about Covid-19.
Many of these focus on debunking common misconceptions or harmful claims about the coronavirus. But there are also some useful tips on how to seek out reliable content, how to tell fact from fiction, and how to find out who’s behind particular claims to help us all to ‘share’ information responsibly.
We’ve also included a section for families, to help parents support their children’s critical understanding during this time. There are also resources from around the world that we think people in the UK will find useful.
We’re also publishing monthly research findings which shows how people are receiving and acting on information during the current pandemic, including which sources they trust most.
Tools for fact-checking
Full Fact in the UK has produced a guide on how to fact check claims about the coronavirus. They have also created the Ask Full Fact feature, where it is possible to submit specific questions and claims for Full Fact to check.
Fact Check NI are publishing and currently researching some Covid-19 claims.
The Poynter Institute in the US has created the Coronavirus Fact-Checking Alliance, which includes a global fact-check database, fully searchable by country, nature of the disinformation and organisation.
Snopes in the US has created a collection of resources relating to the COVID-19 vaccine and the misinformation surrounding it.
Newsguard’s browser extension, a tool that rates websites based on their record of publishing accurate information, has been made available for free during this period.
The BBC has produced a guide on how to stop “bad information” on coronavirus from going viral.
Debunking misleading claims – resources and tips
The BBCBeyond Fake News website relaunched at the end of 2020. It curates all aspects of the BBC’s media education work, including editorial content produced by the BBC anti-disinformation unit. The BBC collects its own stories about disinformation on its News website on the Fake News topic page.
Channel 4 News' FactCheck is also looking at key claims about the coronavirus and has published coronavirus FactCheck Explainer videos as well as doing daily Fact Check social media threads (Facebook and Twitter) countering misinformation
First Draft News has created a vaccine insights hub which provides live insights, intelligence and reporting guidance on emerging health and vaccine misinformation.
HMG has launched the sharechecklist.gov.uk website. This website gives people five easy steps to follow to identify whether information might be false.
Sense about Science has an easy-to-read resource debunking the most common claims and highlighting the key giveaways to look out for when spotting fake claims. The Ask for Evidence campaign and resources are also designed to help understand and ask for the evidence behind health claims, news stories, ads and policies.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has prepared a collection of regularly updated resources – Coronavirus: the science explained – which lays out the evidence and the facts about the virus, the disease, the epidemic, and its control.
CNN has produced a guide on how to debunk misinformation from families & friends.
Newspeak House has crowdsourced a Coronavirus Tech Handbook, a very extensive library aimed at technologists, civic organizations, and specialists of all kinds working on responses to the pandemic. Among its many resources, it includes links to a range of fact-checking services, for example: FactCheck.org, a non-profit “consumer advocate” for US citizens that aims to reduce the level of confusion in US, which has a dedicated issue on Coronavirus with an Ask FactCheck section; and AFP Fact Check, where specialists around the world monitor online content in local languages, and which has produced a Busting Coronavirus Myths page.
The UK Government has a WhatsApp chatbot, based on the WHO model, to provide NHS advice in an effort to take pressure off the NHS's 111 service and combat the spread of misinformation. Users are told to add a phone number to their contacts list, 07860 064422, and send the word “hi” to the Gov.uk WhatsApp account. More information is available at Gov.uk Coronavirus Information Service.
The UK Government’s main coronavirus information site contains the government’s current advice and links to a variety of different resources.
The NHS has an 'Advice for everyone' guide on Covid-19 and provides tips on stopping the spread of the virus, looking after your wellbeing and what to do if you need medical help.
NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government also have a page with all the latest guidance about Covid-19, including social distancing and stay at home advice.
The World Health Organisation has developed the EPI-WIN programme to make sure the facts about Covid-19 are communicated to the public. The WHO Coronavirus page is where you can access accurate, and easy-to-understand advice and information from trusted sources on the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
BBC Bitesize’s ‘fact or fake’ campaign, aimed at 11-16 year olds, explores how ‘fake’ news spreads but includes specific resources on Covid-19. It includes video tips and a coronavirus-related jargon buster article.
BBC Newsround includes coronavirus-related explainers, advice and daily news updates and stories relevant for 7-12 year olds about the current situation online for and has updated TV bulletin times in response to school closures.
Internet Matters has produced a collection of resources specifically helping parents keep children safe and well-informed during the lockdown period.
NewsWise, the Guardian Foundation/National Literacy Trust/PSHE Association news literacy project, has reversioned its teaching resources to make them appropriate for home schooling, and for families to work on together, so that adults can also develop the skills to identify misinformation, rumour and opinion. Resources are aimed at 8-12 year olds.
Parentzone have produced tips for starting the difficult coronavirus conversation with your child, broad advice about talking to your child about the current situation, including critical awareness of news. The site also has a dedicated page on spotting fake news about the coronavirus.
The Economist has a weekly “thinking through the news” newsletter with a range of activities each week for use by students at home, either alone or with parents, siblings or support from their teachers remotely. The first newsletter includes a new resource on using news literacy skills when processing information about Covid-19 (also available to download on the above link).
The London School of Economics (LSE) has a guide for parents, written by Professor Sonia Livingstone, on how families can manage the explosion of misinformation online and help children deal with the challenges of social isolation.
Media Literacy Ireland has created tips to help people judge the accuracy and reliability of other Covid-19 information.
UNESCO has produced visual resources to tackle disinformation surrounding Covid-19. These resources help teach your child how to spot false content and help parents/guardians to teach essential aspects of thinking critically about information.
If you are using the main social media, search and news platforms you should also be aware that they have given priority to UK government, NHS and other trustworthy information.
Apple has a dedicated Covid-19 hub at the top of Apple News, which only includes news stories from reputable sources
Facebook has a dedicated Coronavirus Information Centre on its UK site, combining Government advice, the latest figures and news stories, posts from Government departments and resources and tips on health and community support. Since February 2020, it has been ensuring that NHS and Government advice appears first in search results when people search for Covid-19-related information on Facebook and via Instagram hashtags. And Facebook has verified all the NHS Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts with Government to make them easier to identify as official sources of information.
Google has created Covid resource hub as an one-stop shop for authoritative information and resources.
Twitter has a Covid-19 Search Prompt in 64 countries in 20 languages — partnering with the DHSC and NHS in the UK, and similar institutions in other countries — which works by prioritising credible and authoritative content at the top of results for searches about Covid-19. It has also prioritised an Event Page (including the UK) at the top of users’ Home timeline and in the “For You” section of the Explore tab in more than 22 countries, which features trustworthy information and updates about Covid-19.
TikTok has a Covid-19 Hub on its Discover page which includes a ‘myth-busters’ section on the causes of and cures for Covid-19 for UK users. The hub provides credible information from the World Health Organization that contains answers to common questions, offers tips on staying safe, and dispels some of the myths around Covid-19. Videos with references to Covid-19 have labels that take users directly to the hub.
TikTok Safety Center provides resources on how to find trusted information within its app and explains how it is using technology and human moderation to detect and review content uploaded by users, especially false media advice and misinformation on Covid-19. Every video that is tagged as related to Covid-19 by users or automated technology is then being tagged with a link to a trusted source.
NHS: The NHS website has the latest information on the Coronavirus vaccine. Including who is currently eligible to receive it, how it is administered, information on the safety and side effects of the vaccine. Please visit the NHS websites in the nations for information on vaccines and the vaccination programmes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Oxford University: The vaccine knowledge project from the University of Oxford offers reliable and authoritative information on COVID-19 vaccines. This page includes facts on how the vaccine was developed, the outcomes of the trials for different vaccines and an explanation of the technology used by each vaccine in simple terms.
BBC: BBC News has also written an article detailing when you should expect to be vaccinated according to the UK government. BBC’s reality check has published an article answering some of the common myths about the coronavirus vaccine.
If you have any comments or want to share other resources, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org