In times of crisis, misinformation and disinformation take advantage of panic—something we’re seeing with the sheer amount of fake news around the coronavirus pandemic. But with a medical crisis like this, false information can prove deadly.
Considering that there’s so much unreliable information on the virus and its resulting disease, how do you know what to trust? We’ve rounded up the best online tools for reliable and trustworthy information on the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19.
The coronavirus map from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University is one of the first, most reliable, and up-to-date sources for information on the spread of the coronavirus.
The map tracks the number of cases, deaths, and recoveries for regions and countries around the world. It also has a total global roundup of confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries—updated frequently with the newest numbers.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) doesn’t always have the latest numbers on the coronavirus spread, it has reliable information regarding preventive measures, new research, travel advice, and frequently asked questions.
The website acts as a hub for global developments in the pandemic, as well as updates on the latest developments and statements from the organization.
The COVID-19 website from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the most relevant for Americans—providing information on what to do if you are sick and links to the latest statements from the White House.
The website also provides information on the spread of the coronavirus across US states. However, even non-Americans can find useful information on the website, such as symptoms and information about at-risk groups.
While the general WHO website is useful for coronavirus information, the organization also runs a “myth busters” microsite. The site dispels myths and fake news unfolding during this crisis.
The website rounds up common misconceptions around how and when the virus spreads, preventative measures, and other areas of popular misinformation. It even has a specific section dedicated to when and how to use masks.
Fake news around coronavirus and COVID-19 is rife. Not only is there disinformation regarding treatments and the spread of the virus, but also fake news stories around events, government actions, and community responses.
Google’s Fact Check Tools website has been around for some time, but you can use it for coronavirus fact checks specifically. The tool rounds up fake news from different sources, including social media, and provides a fact-checking analysis from reputable organizations.
The coronavirus website for the United Nations is another international source for information on the pandemic. Rather than only focusing on the health-related aspects of the pandemic, the website also documents its effect on vulnerable groups and nations.
The site includes tips for life under lockdown, as well as information about the UN’s global efforts to help those living in poverty or hard-hit nations.
For those living in the UK, the website for the National Health Service (NHS) provides not only provides information on how to stop the spread of the virus but also outlines lockdown rules.
The NHS site also provides relevant contact numbers for those experiencing symptoms of the virus, as well as advice for those needing non-COVID-related medical advice.
For those living in the European Union, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) provides updates from the region’s health agency. The website rounds up the latest developments regarding the coronavirus pandemic, with both global and regional data.
Like other health agency websites, the ECDC site provides FAQ answers, infographics, and facts around the virus and the disease it causes.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is based in the US, but provides globally relevant information. What sets the site apart from those listed above is that it also provides resources for those working at schools, within the community, or in healthcare.
Meanwhile, other useful resources include CDC posters and videos explaining the virus.
To help reach more people, especially those who don’t have a consistent connection to the internet, the World Health Organization launched the WHO Health Alert service on WhatsApp.
The service lets you text the WHO account for updates on global case numbers, advice for protecting yourself, tips for coping with lockdown, and more. It even provides a roundup of the top myths included on the WHO Myth Busters portal.
You can add the service as a contact on WhatsApp and text “hi” to get started.
The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) has created the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance to debunk myths and fake news about the pandemic. The service is useful for users across the world, using fact checkers based in 45 countries around the world.
Another benefit of the site is its language variety. Articles are available in 15 languages, making it far more accessible to people outside of Western countries where English isn’t widely spoken.
While the First Draft coronavirus hub is primarily for reporters, it is a useful tool for anyone who wants to learn how to fact-check and find reliable information on COVID-19. The website includes links to verification tools, a misinformation database, a reading list, and links to reliable sources.
The website also publishes useful articles and guides, such as how to double-check coronavirus information.
The FDA coronavirus website covers a lot of the same information as other health websites, but also research and studies regarding potential treatments. At the time of writing, no medications or treatments have been approved for COVID-19.
However, if treatments are found and approved, this is one of the first places you’ll see reliable information regarding this.
14. National Government Official Hubs
Most countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic will have their own local website providing information on the pandemic.
For regions we have not covered already in this list, there are a number of national websites people can use to get official information.
- Canada: Public Health Agency of Canada
- India: Government of India COVID-19 Website
- South Africa: COVID-19 South African Resource Portal
- China: National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China
- Japan: Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
- South Korea: South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare
- Australia: Australian Government Website
- Mexico: Government of Mexico Coronavirus Site
In an effort to combat fake news, WhatsApp has listed various fact-checking organization accounts on its service. These services allow you forward information received on WhatsApp (or other stories and links) to the relevant local organization.
Depending on the level of automation, the organizations will respond with their fact-checking report. For example, Africa Check’s bot will respond with any available fact checks or forward your tip onto the organization.
How to Avoid Coronavirus Fake News and Misinformation
Besides relying on trustworthy sources of information, there are a few other things you can do to avoid fake news and misinformation around the coronavirus pandemic.
A few tips include:
- Verify the source and context of videos and photos that claim to show lockdown or pandemic circumstances. Decontexualized media is often shared to spread misinformation. For example, images of hospital beds outdoors after an earthquake in Croatia were shared by accounts claiming that they were current images from Italy’s coronavirus pandemic.
- Only read news stories from trusted and verified news organizations that issue retractions or corrections when information is incorrect.
- Avoid opinions and claims by non-experts. These include columns, but also panel discussions, social media posts, and more. The best sources of information are experts qualified in the topic they are discussing.
- Avoid trusting information on treatments and health from businesses trying to sell a product. Scammers selling fake cures or preventions are using the pandemic to make money.
— Megan Ellis, Tech Harpy ????? (@Megg_Ellis) March 28, 2020
Finally, it’s important to understand that the visualizations of data and information can be edited or decontextualized. Find the original graph or media from its source. A logo doesn’t make something official—rather check the original source (e.g. a verified health department social media account).
Don’t use screenshots or decontextualized media as the basis for your coronavirus knowledge.
How Google Helps You Find Coronavirus Information
If you’re finding tracking the coronavirus pandemic overwhelming, Google has provided a simpler way to follow news around the topic. The company launched a Google COVID-19 microsite to help you keep track of coronavirus news. Find out more about the tool, and where it gets its information, in our story on the announcement.
Read the full article: Coronavirus COVID-19: 15 Sites You Can Trust for Reliable Information