There’s no question that with information about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and constantly. Many people are trying to stay informed and keep their loved ones informed too. So, information, whether or not it is true, is being spreading like wildfire as people are trying to share helpful data. This can make it incredibly challenging to discern between what is fact and what is fiction. There are several things to consider when reading or hearing a piece of news.

It’s essential to look at where the information is coming from. One important consideration is that government officials won’t be using informal news sources to release information that they feel is essential for Americans to know. Reputable news organizations have a burden to verify things before publishing than an individual person doesn’t, which means that what is reported in local or national news is likely more accurate than a single person’s thoughts. If you are reviewing a piece of data, make sure that the wording doesn’t sound off or if you get the feeling that what is being stated doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t.

Make sure you look at the URL to confirm that you’re really on the site you think you’re on. Sometimes, there are weird spelling or something else isn’t correct in the web address. Also, a website you’ve never heard of shouldn’t be the only source for major breaking news. Look for a date on the article to guarantee that the material is current. Check out the byline to confirm that it’s the name of a real person. If there is a link to a bio page, follow it to see what the author’s credentials are.

If you’re finding information on social media, check the account to see if it’s been verified, if not check further into the information that is being shared. Look at the account photo to see if it’s a real person or a generic image. Check the age of the account and how many followers it has. Go back through some older posts to see what type of account it has been. Has it always been news or was it something else in the past? It’s important to examine how the information is being presented. Is there a link to a longer story somewhere or is it just a screenshot of an email, text message, Google Doc or Notes app. Look at the source because trustworthy information will have a reputable name to back it up.