Sharing information online requires time, dedication to detail and the ability to objectively look for facts. Misinformation is not the same thing as bias - let me say that another way. If you read something and you don't agree with it it doesn't necessarily make that article false. When you are on the hunt for facts you will often face bias.
Part of being an information detective is determining what the facts are apart from bias. We all have bias - it shapes us as human beings. Here's an example: I think the next president should be a woman, my uncle thinks only men should be president. We each are sharing our bias - the fact is that anyone who is a natural born US citizen over the age of 35 and a resident of the US for at least 14 years can be president. You can see how bias starts to make things a little murky.
Let's move on the facts. When you are looking for facts, they should be easy to check (multiple sources share the same information) and originate from reliable sources (like journal articles, newspapers, online databases) NOT social media, movies, blogs, certain websites. Facts will often be mixed with bias. Keep this in mind when you review different sources and always check more than one (maybe more than 3) sources to see how the information is being presented.
A word about social media. Many people get their news and medical information from social media. We saw a huge increase in this during the pandemic and a huge increase in the spread of misinformation. Certain social media sources openly present all sides of an issue like Allsides.com. Beware of sites that post information that doesn't actually make logical sense OR is difficult to find anywhere else. Check bios and see what pages they personally follow - this will help you figure out reliability. Here's a list of my favorite Instagram accounts:
Sharon McMahon (@Sharonsaysso) "My mission is simple: I aim to cover daily headlines, break down national political coverage and biases, and extract the facts. With over a decade of experience in government and law education, I’m committed to using nonpartisan facts as my guide. I break down tough-to-follow political headlines and events through daily news briefings, thought-provoking conversations, historical context, and humor."
Jessica Malaty Rivera, MS Infectious Disease Epidemiologist, Science communication lead for the COVID Tracking Project (@jessicamalatyrivera). Jessica works to dispel COVID myths and educate the general public about vaccinations and how to navigate our changing world.
Laurel Bristow, MSc, Infectious Disease Specialist, Science communicator (@kinggutterbaby). Sassy scientist taking on all things COVID and beyond. She explains science in clear and slightly sarcastic ways which is always enjoyable!
Doctor Beachgem 10 (@dr.beachgem10). Pediatric ER doctor and mom of four. Short, factual information about COVID, variants and vaccinations.
Melissa McClure Fuller
Master of Public Health student graduating in August 2021.
EXPAND YOUR KNOWLEDGE
As we look to the media to inform our actions it can be helpful to have some tips. We have included links to articles we have found and also some tips on how to find good, reliable information online.