We all need to be wary of false and misleading narratives about coronavirus, recognising that not everything we see on social media channels in particular is true, and we should be cautious before we decide to share information.
The re-launched 'Don’t Feed the Beast’ public information campaign has been designed to help people to question what they read online. The ‘SHARE’ checklist includes basic but essential advice such as checking the source of a story and analysing the facts before sharing.
When false narratives are identified, the government’s Rapid Response Unit coordinates with departments across Whitehall to deploy the appropriate response. This can include a direct rebuttal on social media, working with platforms to remove harmful content and ensuring public health campaigns are promoted through reliable sources.
The unit is one of the teams feeding into the wider Counter Disinformation Cell led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, made up of experts from across government and in the tech sector. The Cell is engaging with social media platforms and with disinformation specialists from civil society and academia, to establish a comprehensive overview of the extent, scope and impact of disinformation related to coronavirus.
The government is also stepping up its efforts to share its assessments on coronavirus disinformation with international partners, following advice from the National Cyber Security Centre, which revealed a range of attacks being perpetrated online by cyber criminals seeking to exploit coronavirus.
MPs are appealing for members of the public to send examples of disinformation in its own inquiry into Disinformation on COVID-19 in work by the DCMS Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation. It has already announced its intention to call in social media companies.
Useful links for parents and carers to help keep children safe online:
- Thinkyouknow (advice from the National Crime Agency to stay safe online)
- Internet matters (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
- Parent info (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
- LGfL (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
- Net-aware (support for parents and carers from the NSP