Hi out there,
I attended a webinar hosted by Andy Katell from the League of Women Voters of Westchester (LWVW) titled: Infodemic:  Inoculating Against Coronavirus Misinformation. I wanted to share my notes with you.

As the title suggests, the webinar focused on how to make sure the news you read, and even the  photos you see, are valid.  In all times, but especially in times like these, there is a slew of information on the internet.  Often that information is fake.  The LWVW defines “Fake News” as an “Intentional attempt to spread hoaxes or false information, for profit or influence”.  Why people want to spread fake news is beyond me, though there are actual reasons…It is sometimes spread for satire, and sometimes to spread fear.  Sometimes it’s spread to confuse people.  “False information (can be) deliberately and often covertly spread, to influence public opinion or obscure the truth”.  
For obvious reasons, fake news spreads faster than real news.  We may all have unknowingly had our share in spreading some.  It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and share things that you haven’t completely read, or believe things that sounds wonderful.  I am guilty of believing the rumor of dolphins in the Venice Canals, and telling people about it.  Sadly, this information was untrue.  Those dolphins were actually in Sardinia, in the Meditteranean Sea. 

Basically, before falling for something you read, think about who’s behind the information, what evidence bolsters the information, and what do other outlets say.  Other than that, make sure you are getting information from a known site – Associated Press, NYTimes, BBC for example.  Be cautious when websites end in .ru, .co, ,cn.  This may sound racist but often sites from Russia and China do contain fake news so just double check.

I found this interesting – Seniors over 65 shared nearly 7x as many articles from fake news domains as people aged 18-29.  I can certainly attest to that – my 96 year old aunt is constantly sending me questionable information that people send to her and she forwards. Do you forward emails like this too?  I bet many of you received the one giving you advice for diagnosing Covid19 by holding your breath for 10 seconds.  The email I got said it came from Stanford University and Taiwan but others received it with different origins.  It also said that if you keep drinking water it could be washed away.  Nope. That was fake news.   

To combat fake news, some tech companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter are directing users searching for information about the outbreak to authoritative sources. Facebook has sought to ban posts, photos and videos that push harmful misinformation, including bogus claims of cures.  

While using social media, be aware of these things:   News sources that have few posts but  many followers; Sources that have many followers but few likes & comments, or those that are following unusually high numbers of accounts.  

Here are some Digital Resources For Fact Checking PolitiFact.com Truth-O-Meter: – http://www.politifact.com Snopes.com: https://www.snopes.com/news
FactCheck.org: https://www.factcheck.org Washington Post Fact Checker: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/factchecker/?utm_term=.d06f7354ff5b Tin Eye reverse image checker: https://tineye.com/ This is a reverse photo site to which you can upload a photo and it tells you where the photo was taken and other information.  Media Bias/Fact Check News: https://mediabiasfactcheck.com

 Here are some Trustworthy Sources for Coronavirus Info • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention World Health Organization’s Coronavirus Mythbusters Johns Hopkins University & Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center – State & local health departments  

I hope you got something out of this!  Stay tuned for more postings, and stay home and healthy.  I miss seeing you guys around the library.