Conspiracy theories, false information, and photo-shopped images… As COVID-19 spreads, so does the fake news.

Social Media giants are struggling to keep up as they work with the government’s rapid response unit trying to crack down on misinformation and fake news about the coronavirus pandemic. The BBC has published an article on the subject, which should state the scope of the issue.

Trying to distinguish fact from fiction is increasingly difficult, especially when world leaders have repeated inaccuracies to their millions of followers.

Ruth Sparkes editor of teen magazine, Future Mag gives us some top tips on identifying when we’re being fed fake news – here are her top tips…

  • Where did the info come from?

Look at the publication or site and look at its other stories. Consider whether there is any other possible dodgy content.

  • Is it current?

Sometimes a story from years ago can be reused to give the impression of ‘new’ news. There have been examples of this in the current crisis, for instance, of old pictures of a mosque, claiming to be taken after the lockdown, were actually taken before.

  • Look closer

Check whether the story has been published on other credible sites. (The RiverTribe team likes to use MediaBias/Factcheck, but this is not necessarily representative of every contributor)

  • What’s underneath the headline?

Some publications and websites use ‘click-bait’ headlines as a way to encourage you to ‘click’ on the story. Sometimes the actual story bears no resemblance to its headline. Give the actual body of the article a quick read and you might find the headline is even contradictory.

  • Research the author

If the article has a writer’s byline – Google them or check out their social media accounts to see what other articles they’ve written. Try to work out whether they might have a hidden agenda or a particular line to push.


And lastly,

  • Check the facts

There are some great fact-checking websites such as: FullFact and Snopes to use when you’re really not sure about a story.


It can get absolutely exhausting keeping up with all of this. It’s vital that we all stay inside as far as humanly possible, and keep washing your hands frequently. But it’s also vital we don’t lose our heads in all of this; Stephen Cole has a few words here to inspire us to go on.