COVID-19 Misinformation: Fighting the Infodemic (7-9)
This is the grade 7-9 (ages 12-14) version of this lesson. There are also grades 4-6 and 10+ versions on the site.
There are two COVID-19 battles going on right now. One is to fight the virus itself by keeping people safe, stopping its spread, and finding cures and vaccines.
The other battle is fighting misinformation about COVID-19. With the right information, we can protect ourselves, our families, and the entire world. With the wrong information, we can harm the people we care about and make it harder to stop the virus.
This is why World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic.”
How serious is the spread of misinformation? At least two countries—the USA and UK—have set up specialist units to combat misinformation about COVID-19. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google, and Pinterest have taken steps to minimize the misinformation. The World Health Organization (WHO) started a TikTok account just to fight it.
Yet despite all these efforts, misinformation is spreading across all platforms. Facebook users have found ways to bypass anti-misinformation measures. Traditional media outlets have accidentally shared false information about COVID-19. Even some heads of state have said things that contradict the WHO and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC).
In addition, the situation with COVID-19 changes over time. This means that what was accurate once doesn’t necessarily mean it’s accurate today.
In short, misinformation is everywhere, and it’s a lot harder to avoid than you might think. Ultimately, it’s on each of us to make sure we are getting accurate information.
Who Benefits from Misinformation?
- Hackers. Scams have emerged that promise accurate information, only to install malicious software for political or economic gain.
- Political enemies. The USA and the European Union have claimed that they have detected a coordinated effort by the Russian government to spread misinformation about COVID-19.
- Scammers. Whether they are selling a “miracle cure” or secret insider information, a lot of people are trying to convince us that they are more trustworthy than the CDC or the WHO. In the end, they are trying to sell you membership, a product, or a conspiracy theory tied to a different issue (such as anti-vaccine ideas).
What you can do:
- Follow the CRAAP test you learned in the Critical Thinking & Evaluating Information section.
- Check COVID-19 information from trusted sources, such as the WHO or your local health authority.
- Don’t share COVID-19 information on social media without checking the source.
What about Kids Boost Immunity as a trustworthy source of information?
Kids Boost Immunity is a trustworthy source. KBI is a Canadian health initiative made possible through a partnership between public health agencies in Canada, including the BC Ministry of Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the BC Centre for Disease Control.
That being said, information about COVID-19 changes too fast even for KBI! This is why KBI is not posting some specific information about COVID-19 such as the numbers of cases, countries, or even the nature of the virus. For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, you should go to the WHO, the CDC, the BCCDC, or other trusted public health organizations.
For more information about how to be a critical thinker, check out the lessons in the Critical Thinking & Evaluating Information section.
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This was just one of the lessons in our Global Inequality section. There are over 200 lessons on Kids Boost Immunity just like this one on a variety of subjects. Each lesson includes a quiz, and every time a student scores 80% or higher on a quiz, we will donate life-saving vaccines to UNICEF Canada. Sign up now!