Spreading health misinformation can be a matter of life and death. In the spring of 2020, over 800 people in Iran died and 5,876 people were hospitalized from ingesting different forms of alcohol, particularly methanol, because a deadly fake remedy was passed around on social media with claims of curing COVID-19.1
Unfortunately, we are now under the mire of misinformation about getting vaccinated for COVID. According to a recent article co-authored by Dr. Ross Brownson and Dr. Graham Colditz2, one way to combat false health information is to “flood the media environment with accurate information that is easy to understand, is engaging, and can be quickly shared on mobile devices.”2
This shareable graphic from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions provides quick tips to avoid spreading misinformation.
Be mindful of the source of the information you are sharing. Below are a few resources that provide easily shareable and reliable health information on Twitter:
- BarnesJewish Twitter – Retweet-worthy interviews with local experts with a current focus on vaccinations.
- WUSTL Public Health
- St. Louis County Department of Health
- Missouri Foundation for Health
- Global Health Now from Johns Hopkins
- UK’s NHS
These resources below combat health misinformation about COVID-19:
- The World Health Organization Mythbusters and Vaccine Advice pages include shareable graphics that dispel popular myths.
- Information is Beautiful creates visualizations of COVID-19 statistics. Their graphics are easier to share from their Twitter and Facebook pages, but this page has the most up-to-date statistics.
- COVID-19 Infographs contains detailed infographics formed from information sourced from the UK’s National Health Service and WHO.
- WUSTL COVID-19 Announcements features stories from WUSM experts.
These outlets below keep track of websites that spread misinformation and fact-check myths about COVID-19:
If you need help with crafting your own health message, Mychal Voorhees’ recent post provides great tips to get started.
- Islam MS, Sarkar T, Khan SH, Mostofa Kamal AH, Hasan SMM, Kabir A, Yeasmin D, Islam MA, Amin Chowdhury KI, Anwar KS, Chughtai AA, Seale H. COVID-19-Related Infodemic and Its Impact on Public Health: A Global Social Media Analysis. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2020 Aug 10. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.20-0812. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32783794.
- Brownson RC, Burke TA, Colditz GA, Samet JM. Reimagining Public Health in the Aftermath of a Pandemic. Am J Public Health. 2020 Aug 20:e1-e6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2020.305861. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32816552.