Check health-related information about the coronavirus from established news sources rather than from shared stories in social media, advises Professor of Communication Jeff Hancock.

Having access to all this information can raise our anxiety since we tend to pay attention to bad news, and somewhat increased anxiety is a reasonable response. A subscription to any reputable news organization is highly recommended, though many news sites (e.g., the New York Times) are offering free access to coronavirus related news. As people struggle to learn more about it, to cope with the disruptions and seek to understand how they should deal with it, they are using social media to accomplish those goals and to express their fear and uncertainty. This can lead people to believe information that may be wrong or deceptive because it helps make them feel better, or allows them to place blame about what’s happening. Because media business models are based on attention economics, bad actors create mal-information (which includes fake news, misinformation and disinformation) about the coronavirus in order to get people to attend to their content, and ultimately make money from that attention. Longer-term, people need to be aware of these forms of mal-information, ensuring they check their sources and get their news from authoritative and reputable news services.

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