As part of the SCOOP capsule series! on COVID-19, today we are interested in the infodemic, this overabundance of information, credible or not, which gives a hard time to anyone who tries to navigate it. Medical misinformation, conspiracy theories, rumors of government measures, hijacked photos and videos, attempted scams or hoaxes, false information about COVID-19 spreads faster than the virus. SCOOP! explains in video how to sharpen your reflexes in search of truth.
Infodemic, you say?
This new portmanteau, formed from the fusion of the words "information" and "epidemic", characterizes the unprecedented phenomenon of the spread of information of all kinds concerning COVID-19 on the Web.
“More than ever, conspiracy theories are popular. The charlatans who sell fake miracle cures are rubbing their hands. Fake news puts on their best clothes. And all of this is particularly worrying at a time when correct and accurate information is nothing more or less than a matter of life and death. "La Presse, April 5, 2020
Sorting out information and disinformation in this ocean of content can be quite an achievement today. People need to be reassured, to know all the answers, to have a feeling of control over the situation. In these times of crisis, it's easy to let emotions get the best of your senses. This is why we find so much content with questionable intentions that can lead to different cognitive biases, thereby altering critical judgment. Some gurus and charlatans therefore take advantage of the situation to influence and rally as many people as possible to their cause.
“Adherence to certain conspiracy theories is often more widespread among young people. This can be explained in particular by the fact that they are more inclined to shun traditional media and to get information on social media. "La Presse, April 5, 2020
To doubt or to trust?
To doubt or to trust? This should be the question to ask yourself every time you see new information appearing on your favorite social network. The TikTok, Snapchat and Twitch of this world remain fertile ground for disinformation and the sharing of “fake news” among young people. Among older people, Facebook remains the platform where the most falsehoods are spread.
“Last January, a study published by the American journal Science Advances revealed that Facebook users over 65 spread fake news seven times more than young people. However, young or old, we are all likely to fall for it. "La Presse, April 5, 2020
It is important, even essential, in the context of the current crisis, to choose credible sources of information when it comes time to get informed, such as Radio-Canada, Press, The news, Science-Press Agency, the École branchée. In addition to trusting these media that publish reliable content, web specialists have set up platforms where they sift through an impressive amount of news to disentangle the true from the false. Les Décrypteurs de Radio-Canada, the rumor detector from the Agence Science-Presse and the Decoders of the newspaper Le Monde are experts in dealing with fake news that spreads on social media. They set the record straight and tell you the truth, among other things, on everything related to COVID-19.
You can do this verification work yourself in three simple steps when you consult information sources:
1- Check the statement.
You can copy important quotes from the article into Google to see if other media are talking about it the same way. If you see several spelling mistakes, you may doubt the credibility. Of course, you have to read beyond the title to properly understand the content. Also look at the date of the article. Old posts often come back to the News Feed and are passed off as new facts. Is the rationale based on the point of view of amateurs or is there evidence that is provided by experts?
2- Check the source.
You can check the name of the source in Wikipedia. If it's credible, there's a good chance it'll figure it out. Notice how the web address is written. For example, radio-canada.ca is reliable, but radio-canada.co surely is less so. You can also write the URL of a website or its name in the Decodex of the newspaper Le Monde to verify if the source is trustworthy. You should also pay attention to sponsored content or partnership. If there is bias or compensation, doubt the credibility of what you see.
3- Check the image.
You can check the credibility of a photo by doing a reverse search in Google Images. You can then see if the image in question has been used elsewhere. Also check the caption below the image. A reliable source will give credit to the owner of the photo. Sites like Tineye.com or Amnesty International's Youtube DataViewer provide more information on the provenance of photos and videos. Your judgment and good sense of observation can also indicate whether a photo has been edited in Photoshop.
More about the magazine
To help you with your media education, various resources are available. For example, doubt.ca, 30seconds.org, fauxquecacesse.ca and actufute.ca will provide you with all the tools you need to help you fight fake news. You will also be able to test your skills to distinguish the true from the false through various quizzes.
In the meantime, to avoid spreading false news, it would be good to keep in mind a very simple piece of advice that applies to everyone, young and old, recalls Ève Beaudin. “The same way we tell people, 'Wash your hands for 20 seconds', you also have to say,' Really take 30 seconds to check the source.”La Presse, April 5, 2020
Click here to have access to a quiz created from the Quizizz platform. You will be in "practice" mode, so no adult is required to start the quiz. You will even have all the time you want to answer the questions.
For teachers, use this link to access the quiz. Then click on “Play Live”. A window will open to assign the parameters of your choice. Now click on “Host game” and invite the students to go to joinmyquiz.com by providing them with the game code that appeared on the screen. When everyone is ready to begin, click on “Start”.
Have a good quiz!