Coronavirus: Dealing with scaremongering and fake news

Is ibuprofen a danger to sick people? Will supermarkets close? Will the Internet hold out? The rumors surrounding the hotly debated topic of Covid-19 are currently spreading faster than the virus itself. klicksafe provides tips for the correct handling of information on the coronavirus.

No topic is currently so present in socio-political and media terms as the spread and measures concerning the novel coronavirus Covid-19 (also SARS-CoV-2). Last but not least, the uncertainty of many people also leads to the spread of rumors and fake news. Especially via social media, these false reports quickly gain momentum.

Google, Facebook, YouTube are therefore increasingly trying to combat fake news on the subject of the corona virus. When searching for "Corona"/"Coronavirus" or "Covid-19" via Google or YouTube, for example, an information box appears directly with links to the German Federal Center for Health Education and the World Health Organization (WHO). Facebook is trying to algorithmically hide Corona false reports and is cooperating with health authorities and fact-checking platforms in this regard.

But "closed groups" on social services like Facebook and WhatsAppremain problematic. In the groups and chats, rumors and false reports are spread uncontrollably, the origin of which the recipient cannot trace, which is why it is also referred to as "dark social." False reports spread particularly well when they are "decorated" with the words "Doctors have found....", "University clinic...warns", "Research has shown...", as this gives the message a certain respectability.
How can one deal with the flood of information? Where can trustworthy information be found? How do you check whether a rumor is true or false?

On official sides inform
Daily current information to the Coronavirus is to be found above all on the following sides:

In addition, all German states, cities and a large number of districts and municipalities provide up-to-date information on their websites, informing people specifically about measures in the region, for example.

Information for children
Children and adolescents in particular need support in educating themselves on the subject of coronavirus in order to deal with the mass of information and rumors. The recommendation service and the association of German children's sites Seitenstark offer a compilation of child-friendly news and information on the coronavirus.

Checking facts
Young people should be sensitized to critically check the truth of information shared via social services in particular. Correctiv (Research for Society) and Mimikama (Association for Internet Abuse Education), among others, are currently working almost continuously to check the many reports that are being spread about the coronavirus, in line with the motto "fact or fake" .

Do not share news hastily
Fake news is effective primarily because it can achieve a very large reach in a short time when shared via social media. It is helpful, similar to the spread of Corona, to break the chain of transmission. Is the information coming from a safe source? If in doubt: Do not share and check where the information actually comes from.

Point out false reports to others
In most cases, messages in social services come from known people. It can therefore be uncomfortable to openly question information coming from friends or relatives. However, if you check the information and find out that it is a false report, you should point it out in a friendly manner and explain about fake news. The"Facts for friends" app provides short and easy-to-understand counterarguments to common COVID-19 fake news. It thus offers quick and easy support to those who want to do something about disinformation in their circle of friends and family.

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