Trusted Sources of Information Amid the Pandemic
With a global pandemic taking place at a time when so many people use social media and internet sources for news, we face a major problem of misinformation, a problem which has been dubbed the “infodemic.” Joining me is Mihaela Vincze, public health expert for nonprofit Transamerica Institute, here to discuss trustworthy COVID-19 resources that we can rely on to stay informed amid the pandemic.
Al: Thanks for joining me. Mihaela: Thank you for having me. Al: With such an abundance of COVID-19 information available to us online, it can be difficult to determine what is trustworthy. How can the general public navigate the content we see online in order to identify trustworthy sources of information? Mihaela: This is a really important question, and you’re right, it can be difficult. One practice that can be helpful is to identify a few verified, reputable organizations, such as the CDC and the WHO, that you can pin to your internet browser and consistently refer to for COVID-19 information. This way, if you are presented with questionable information from an untrustworthy source, you can easily fact-check using your designated reputable sources. Al: It is definitely a good idea to refer to credible health organizations for COVID19 fact-checking purposes. What are some ways to determine if something we see online is an untrustworthy source or, as you said, “questionable information?” Mihaela: There are a few steps we can take. You can start by browsing the source’s website to check for a few key indicators. Trustworthy sources typically have a professional design, and include the date, author, and sources of their information. If you find a website that is disorganized, contains grammar mistakes and broken links, or fails to cite their sources, this might be an untrustworthy source spreading misinformation. 2 Al: That’s a great first step to take. Is there any further research we should do to determine if a source is credible and trustworthy? Mihaela: Some further background research on the author can be helpful. A quick search can help you to determine if they are qualified to be sharing COVID-19 related content or not. Authors of trustworthy COVID-19 information should have proven subject matter expertise related to health or science, clearly-cited sources for any claims they make, and an unbiased tone. Al: That is an important checklist to keep in mind when verifying the authors. Are there any specific types of misinformation that the public should be particularly cautious of? Mihaela: Yes – it is critical that we look out for fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination scams. Some indicators of a vaccination scam include requests asking you to pay an out-of-pocket fee for a vaccine, offers for a vaccine delivery to your home, or advertisements for a vaccine through social media, phone call, or email, according to an FBI warning in December 2020. To avoid vaccination fraud, consult your state’s department of health, the FDA, or the CDC for trusted information. Al: Any final thoughts you would like to share with the listeners? Mihaela: For a more comprehensive list of trustworthy sources of COVID-19 information, check out the Transamerica Institute Coronavirus Resources page. This includes sources for general information and updates, as well as specific information related to local and state guidelines. Al: Thank you again for joining us, Mihaela. Mihaela: Thank you for having me! Al: This has been another episode of ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health & Wealth. I’m your host Al Waller – thanks for listening