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How to avoid fake news on Facebook

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Don’t believe everything about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) or any other issue that you read on Facebook and other social media sites. Misinformation can be more dangerous than the virus itself. If a post piques your interest, confirm its authenticity with these simple yet valuable tips.

#1 Beware of sensationalism and exaggeration

First, do not panic. Scammers exploit our emotions and won’t hesitate to exaggerate headlines and article titles just to grab your attention. Verify with sites like Snopes.com that fact-checks and debunks claims, such as that hair dryers and gargling with salt water can apparently stop and eliminate the coronavirus. See major news outlets to corroborate stories and reports.

#2 Watch out for fake URLs

A post may claim to redirect you to a legitimate website but does otherwise. Watch out for, say, zeroes replacing the o’s (e.g., Go0gle.com). If the URL is unfamiliar to you, submit it to websites like VirusTotal.com for malware scanning. Think before you click.

#3 Be very cautious when exploring unfamiliar websites

It’s quite possible to become infected with malware just by visiting a website. To be safe, never visit websites you’ve never heard of before. If you really want to visit these sites out of curiosity or perhaps to check the credibility of the authors, at the very least ensure you have the latest security software.

Fake-Fact

#4 Look for credible sources

Claims made on a news story must be backed by credible sources. If an article is vague about its sources, then take its content with a grain of salt. An article that merely refers to a “top expert” or “leading authority” without ever mentioning the person’s name should arouse suspicion. Even if a name is mentioned, check that person’s background and experience and if that person really has an involvement in the news story.

#5 Don’t believe claims and myths of cure

As far as the World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned, no medicine or cure is available that can prevent or treat the coronavirus, and that certain treatments that show promise are still going through clinical trials to ensure they work in human without harmful side effects.

So while the entire world is waiting for a legit cure, don’t ingest chloroquine phosphate, miracle minerals and other snake oils just because an influencer says so in a random post. People have even died believing these claims, while social media celebrities has raked in serious cash for endorsing worthless, potentially dangerous chemicals.

#6 Only share fact-checked posts

If you’re going to share questionable posts, you’re only contributing to the misinformation circulating all over social media. You might also end up legally liable. The PNP has already warned us, and a Cebu optometrist has certainly learned her lesson now that she’s facing charges.

#7 Rely on the real experts

For verified information on coronavirus, you can always rely on public announcements and guidelines made by the Department of Health and WHO Philippines. They also have official accounts on Facebook and Twitter so you can receive the latest coronavirus info through your feed.

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