How to Avoid False Information During the Pandemic

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Our society is inundated with articles, stories, and opinions about the COVID-19 pandemic—but some of these sources are more accurate than others. With false information proliferating online, it’s essential to separate fact from fiction, and libraries play a key role in teaching their communities how to evaluate news items with a critical eye.

Vincci Lui, a librarian at the University of Toronto’s Gerstein Science Information Center, has created a comprehensive online guide with advice for spotting inaccurate information about the pandemic. Tips include consulting fact-checking organizations, visiting reputable health-focused websites, and looking closely at news sources for potential bias or hoaxes. 

“Everyone’s glued to their phones and looking at things popping up on their newsfeeds,” Lui shares in a University of Toronto news story. “It became very apparent that, along with thousands of journal articles coming out every week about COVID-19, some of the reporting on this information is a little incorrect, some is being misinterpreted, some has been taken out of context, and some has been misrepresented or made up completely.”

Wondering what to do if a friend or relative sends you questionable facts about the pandemic? “Usually whenever I get sent something, I will then do a quick fact-check and then send the information I find to them and just gently say, ‘Oh, did you see this? Actually, this has been disproven,’” Lui explains. “You’re not going to necessarily convince them just by saying, ‘that’s not true,’ but I try to show them what the evidence is saying.”

Find the rest of Lui’s guidelines at the University of Toronto Libraries website. Plus, don’t forget to check out your own library’s website for information literacy resources and lists of trusted news sources.

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