Last reviewed on 9 March 2021
When you look up something online or see a post on social media, how often do you stop to consider if it’s true? It can be all too easy to take an article, photo, video, gif or meme at face value but it’s really important that you think about who created it and why.
There has been lots of false information about COVID-19 over the last year, for example – from conspiracy theories to miracle cures to anti-vaccine campaigns. At times, you might have felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information and made decisions you wouldn’t normally make.
As London’s digital mental wellbeing service, Good Thinking understands how false information can affect your mental health. It can be very stressful living in a world of fake news and not knowing what to believe. If you’re looking for health advice online, it’s particularly important that you know who to trust.
To mark #SaferInternetDay (9 February) and its #AnInternetWeTrust theme, we’ve put together these tips to help you spot what’s real and what’s not and to think carefully before sharing content with other people. Before we start, we thought the BBC’s definition of fake news might be useful:
“Fake news could start as disinformation (things deliberately made up for a specific purpose) or end up being misinformation (false content shared accidentally by people who don’t know that the information is inaccurate).”
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tom Phillips of Full Fact wrote in The Guardian, “It’s a natural response to a scary situation to pass on advice that you think might help protect your friends and family. But if that information turns out to be inaccurate, you risk doing more harm than good.”
The BBC website has lots of useful advice about false information and fake news and an interactive game called BBC iReporter that gives you the opportunity to be a journalist working on a breaking story. Here are some useful links: