Since the creation of the World Wide Web, we have had access to more information than ever before. However, we are also bombarded with dangerous disinformation. The UN’s Verified campaign has launched an online course to help us decide which is which, and protect vulnerable people from potential harm.
It has become increasingly apparent that, for some time, some individuals and organizations are intent on spreading false information online. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, claims that certain drugs or remedies are miracle cures, or that the pandemic is a hoax, have circulated on social media platforms.
Whilst there are those who are sharing these articles, videos and images maliciously, many do so because they have not been able to distinguish between legitimate information from trusted sources and false claims, or because they have simply shared a post sent by a family member or loved one, without looking closely at the content it contains.
The consequences can be disastrous, leading people to take dangerous, inappropriate medication and refuse to take COVID-19 vaccines, and may even lead to avoidable hospitalizations and deaths as a result.
To help combat the spread of harmful disinformation, the UN’s Verified campaign has teamed up with wikiHow, an online community of experts creating trusted how-to guides, to create a free online course.
The course, which contains a series of lessons sent to email subscribers over five days, teaches vital skills and how to put them into practice, helping users identify false information and help slow the spread, and protect vulnerable people from harm.
By the end of the course, students will know when, and why, to pause before sharing, how to fact-check, and how to speak to people who have shared misinformation.
You can sign up to the course on wikiHow to learn how you can play a part in stopping the spread of misinformation.
Also, you can sign up to Verified’s #pledgetopause campaign, and take a moment to pause before forwarding a message, retweeting a story or watching a video in your social media feed.