We’ve said it before and we’ll say it for as long as it takes: Get your news from credible news sources, especially for stories as serious as the coronavirus.

The National Security Council warned Americans Monday about taking information off social media regarding the coronavirus as much of it is outright lies attempting to spread fear throughout the country.

The NSC described it as “foreign disinformation” in a blatant attempt to spread fear and divisiveness. It came near the same time where a Department of Health and Human Services system experienced a “cyber incident.” The system was later running normally.

The latest big lie involved a fake news report on social media, most likely created by Russia, that said the entire U.S. was supposed to be on “lockdown” due to coronavirus. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was immediately debunked by health officials, security officials and President Donald Trump himself.

A reminder: News that is transmitted by Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social platforms can be completely false. The tech giants have no legal liability or responsibility to make sure any of what they transmit is true. Facebook leaders have even gone so far as to reject the idea of taking down falsehoods because they are someone’s “version of the truth.”

But it’s important not to confuse legitimate news sources like this newspaper or others in Minnesota who transmit their news via Facebook, Twitter and Google. It’s unfortunate the new ways of transmitting news can be confusing, but that’s a new reality.

When you click on Facebook post that is a Free Press story, you will generally be brought to the news organization’s website. In some cases, The Free Press posts an entire story on Facebook, but in that case it will have the author’s name. It may take a little more care to pick a legitimate website, but during a pandemic it can be critical to getting the correct information. Local, state and national coronavirus stories can be found at www.mankatofreepress.com.

First responders and public health officials told MinnPost that one of the biggest challenges they face in trying to treat people and deliver care is the constant battle with disinformation on Facebook. People call in a panic wondering if the latest rumor about a case or the virus on Facebook is true.

There has never been a more important time to get accurate information on a pandemic that hard-working public health officials are trying to respond to in a timely way. Don’t make it worse by spreading misinformation.

Reprinted with permission from the Mankato Free Press.

(1) comment

larry gebert

Thank you for posting this.

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