Adams discusses coronavirus misinformation on NPR

Updates


Peter Adams, NLP’s senior vice president of education, talked with NPR’s Michel Martin about misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic on the March 14 edition of All Things Considered.

He began by describing the types of misinformation being spread about SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19. “This pandemic has brought out a really clear picture of the kinds of things that tend to circulate in the misinformation ecosystem,” Adams said, but “more intensified and, obviously, with higher stakes.”

As an example, he added, he has seen “everything from miracle cures and alternative medicine recommendations — some of which are dangerous, most of which are completely ineffective — to anti-vaccination activists using this to push their agenda and their falsehoods,” along with “conspiracy theorists jumping in, some disinformation agents and online trolls.”

“The equivalent of taking 20 seconds and washing your hands is very much the same in the information space … investigate the source, do a quick Google search, stay skeptical.”

It’s not just bad actors, though. As typically happens when health or safety is at stake, he said, misinformation is often spread inadvertently by well-intentioned people trying to make sense of a scary and rapidly unfolding situation and want to protect their friends and family.

Adams also offered easy-to-adopt steps to distinguish credible information from false or misleading content. “The equivalent of taking 20 seconds and washing your hands is very much the same in the information space,” he said. If everyone can “take 20 seconds, investigate the source, do a quick Google search, stay skeptical, we can eliminate a great deal of the confusion and misinformation out there.”

Listen to the interview — or read the transcript — to help you and your family and friends stay well —and well-informed — during this outbreak.

More Updates

News literacy ambassadors

NLP launches News Literacy Ambassador Program

If 2020 has made anything clear, it’s that the future of our democracy depends on our collective ability to sort fact from fiction — and teaching students news literacy skills is crucial to this. To build our local footprint through community organizing efforts in the fight against misinformation, we have launched a News Literacy Ambassador…

Updates

Annual report: NLP meets challenges, expands mission

By Greg McCaffery and Alan C. Miller Our world has been shaken and transformed since we shared our first annual report with you. In fact, it often feels like last fall was a decade ago. Read the report here. We’re proud to say that NLP has responded to the myriad challenges wrought by COVID-19 with…

Updates

From the Sift®: Understanding misinformation in the wake of the election

Misinformation and conspiracy theories thrive when curiosity and controversy are widespread and conclusive information is scarce or unavailable. The deeply polarized 2020 presidential election not only produced these conditions, it sustained them as ballots in a number of swing states with narrow vote margins were adjudicated and carefully counted. To be sure, viral rumors swirled…

Updates