If we’ve learned anything since the COVID-19 pandemic upended all our lives nearly 2 years ago, it’s how to sanitize our hands, homes, workplaces, and just about anything we encounter to stop the spread of the virus. Turns out, we also need to maintain that vigilance when encountering information about COVID-19 in our social media feeds. As the pandemic persisted, dangerous misinformation about treatments, cures, and the vaccines flourished. This environment has underscored the importance of consuming and sharing online content with care. And that approach applies not only to a public health crisis, but to all information we encounter. We need to take steps to ensure a post, photo, or meme is “sanitized” before we trust it, like it, pass it on, or promote it in any way.
The News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan national education nonprofit, has created steps you can follow to ensure that you practice good information hygiene. NLP, a news literacy education leader since 2008, provides programs and resources to help you gain the skills, knowledge, and mindset to be smart consumers of news and other information. If we sanitize the process around our information habits, we can prevent misleading and false content — which can be hazardous to our health and society — from being widely shared and potentially doing harm.
You don’t need any special talents or technology to learn how to do so. NLP provides you with essential guidance in its infographic, “Sanitize before you share: 4 quick steps to stop the spread of misinformation.” It can take only four steps to keep yourself or others from becoming a “superspreader” of misinformation. And if you find credible evidence that a social media post isn’t true or the source is unreliable, warn others in a reply to the post, and if necessary, report it to platform administrators.
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