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2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This guide provides resources that will help you become better informed about COVID-19.

How to determine if a Coronavirus story is real or a hoax

There are lots of rumors and misinformation out there about the Novel Coronavirus. Even a U.S. Senator has repeated unsupported rumors about the origin of the virus, so it's easy to be tricked into believing fake news. Using the two quick fact-checking methods below will help you to determine whether information about the Novel Coronavirus is fact or fiction. 

Let's say you find a headline like the one below:

Article suggesting African blood resists the coronavirus

First, do a web search on the topic. If the information is legitimate, it will likely have been reported in a mainstream news source. If you can't find one, you should be skeptical of the information. If it's not legitimate, you'll probably be able to find articles that fact-check the claim and found that it's a hoax. As you can see, the first three results that come up in my search are fact-checks that showed the claim to be false.

Google search asking are Africans resistant to coronavirus?

Another option is to investigate the publication where you found the information. There are news sources known to produce fact-based articles, news sources that produce a mix of fact-based news and fake news, and news sources that are known only for publishing fake news. The article below is published by The Washington Times, whose website is designed to look a lot like the well-respected newspaper The Washington Post.

Article suggesting coronavirus was grown in a Wuhan lab

If you wanted to learn about the reputation of The Washington Times, try doing a web search on their name. All major news sources will have a Wikipedia entry about them. In this case, the third paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for The Washington Times makes it clear that it is not a trustworthy source.

Wikipedia entry for the Washington Times

You can also search for the newspaper, magazine, or website in Media Bias Fact Check, which will tell you the political leanings of the publication as well as how high a level of factual reporting they provide. Most media sources will have some bias, but you want to look for less extreme ones and certainly ones with very high, high, or mostly factual reporting.