Separating coronavirus fact from fiction

Tracking Coronavirus
Data pix.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, social media has become a hotbed of false and misleading information. Thousands of posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have spread phony claims about self-diagnosing, testing, and even cures for the coronavirus.

This post, for example, wrongly advises people that holding their breath for 10 seconds can test if they’re infected with the coronavirus.

The viral post, which claims to be from the Stanford hospital board and Japanese doctors treating coronavirus cases, also states that taking “sips of water every 15 minutes” can kill the virus.

Stanford debunked this post and referred people to its website, click here for that information.

Another post circulating on social media falsely claims that “gargling with salt water and vinegar” will eliminate the coronavirus from your throat.

But how can you tell which social posts are fact and which are fiction?

FactCheck.org and other organizations that verify information and work with Facebook to debunk misinformation on social media, offer the following advice:

-       Check the source of the information. If it claims to be from a specific hospital, for example, go to that hospital’s website.

-       If a specific person is quoted, Google their name and specific keywords. You can also use free people finders tools like familytreenow.com, pipl.com.

-       If the post cites a specific story or website, check the URL. Government websites, for example, end with .gov. Does the story have a byline? If not, that could be a red flag. Check the sources mentioned in the story.

-       Check reliable sources for coronavirus information like The Center For Disease Control and Prevention, The World Health Organization, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, The Missouri Department of Health, The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, The Johnson County Health Department, and the Kansas City Health Department.

-       In addition to this special section of our website, FOX4 has a special page dedicated to the coronavirus.

-       To verify image or video in a social media post, you can check Google Earth for a specific location.

-       The online tool www.whopostedwhat.com allows you to search posts on Facebook;

-       This online tool, www.twitteraudit.com lets you check to see how many fake followers someone has.

-        Factcheck.com has more information on its website about spotting coronavirus myths at this link: https://factcheck.afp.com, as does Snopes.

Remember the old adage -- if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone discovers a way to quickly diagnose or cure the coronavirus, it will be reported by reputable organizations and media outlets. It will not be spread by wild claims on social media.

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