Website or claim analysis

It is important to vet information before sharing it. There are many reasons why this should be done, mainly, to stop the spread of mis/disinformation. 

There is a lot of information that is shared online about health and wellness, some of it is factual and some of it is not. Although it might seem like sharing information that “might be accurate” is helping others “just in case it is accurate” it is actually harmful. If it’s inaccurate it can cause people to question, for example, if vaccines are helpful, possibly leading the person to not get certain types of vaccines. Speaking about information sharing related to COVID-19, the United Nations News reported that “One of the ways it [misinformation] is spreading is the way people are sharing”

The United Nations created the Pause campaign to raise awareness of the fact that sharing information without validating it is harmful.

Recently I saw someone share a graphic in their Instagram Stories that shared how long it would take someone who had COVID-19 to spread it to someone else based on the type of mask that they were wearing. I was scrolling on my phone and didn’t have time to research this information but I have been curious about its accuracy of it.

This was an easy-to-share graphic. The first step that should be taken is to practice “click restraint”, meaning, verify the information before sharing it. 

How do we know if this information is accurate?

There is a 5-step process to help determine if the information is accurate, it is called the SIFT Method.

Stop and check that the source is reputable. Also, check personal emotions before resharing.

Investigate the source

Find better coverage that is trustworthy

Trace the claims, quotes and media to the original context

Using the previously shared graphic, the SIFT method is going to help me determine the accuracy of the information.

Let’s start the fact-checking journey!

Stop: Where did this graphic come from? There is not a cited source for the data or who put together the information. This is problematic since anyone can create information and share it online. 

Investigate the source: Since the source is not cited, I am going to do a reverse image search on Google to find similar images. From my desktop computer, I did a right-click on the image and chose the option “search image with Google lens”. This search can be done on a desktop or mobile device. I looked through the different visual matches and chose two images that are related to Twitter. I chose two so that I can compare the information.

Image one: I chose an image from a January 6, 2022 Tweet by a physician, Dr. Christine Parks, since doctors should be trustworthy especially when talking about medicine.

Twitter – Dr. Christine Parks

Image two: I chose an image from a January 20, 2022 Tweet by the Detroit Department of Health because Departments of Health are trustworthy agencies, for the most part.

Source: Twitter – Detroit Department of Health

Find better coverage that is trustworthy:

I found two sources that both shared the same image like the one being researched. The data and copy on all three images are exactly the same. The difference is that the images from Twitter each have a cited source, unlike the original image. Dr. Park’s image references The Wall Street Journal and her tweet includes a link to the article referenced, Why Cloth Masks Might Not Be Enough as Omicron Spreads. The Detroit Department of Health’s tweet does not have a link to the source but the image cites the source.

A quick Wikipedia search informs me that The Wall Street Journal is one of the largest newspapers in circulation and is a “newspaper of record”, aka authoritative. But the paper has published information that is contrary to science on a few topics.

According to Wikipedia, the Detroit Department of Health has had some struggles in the past but currently, they are committed to the health services for their community.

Trace the claims, quote and media to the original context:

Time to review the sources that are included in the images. 

Starting with Dr. Park’s link to The Wall Street Journal. The actual image in the article cites the source of the information to “ACGIH’s (American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists) Pandemic Response Task Force”.

  1. After Googling “ACGIH’s Pandemic Response Task Force”, I did not find the image but I was able to learn the purpose of the task force and the types of people who make up the task force.
  2. I visited their Twitter page and did not find the image
  3. I googled “ACGIH’s Pandemic Response Task Force Time it takes to transmit an infectious dose of Covid-19” and found the fact sheet that has a table with the same data
Source: ACGIH

I was able to trace Dr. Park’s image back to the original source.

Originally I also looked at an image that the Detroit Department of Health posted. That image stated the source as “ACGIH’s Pandemic Response Task Force”. The WSJ’s image has the same source as the Detroit Department of Health’s. That means both accounts have used the same image.

Based on the research and following the SIFT method, it can be concluded that the original image in question that did not have a source, is an accurate image.

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