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  • bartvandermeijden8

We are all being exposed to a huge amount of COVID-19 information every day. However, not all of it is reliable. Here are some tips for telling the difference and stopping the spread of misinformation by the World Health Organization (WHO).



Due to COVID-19, most of us have a new word in our vocabulary: epidemiology. It is the branch of medical science that deals with the ways diseases are transmitted and can be controlled in a population. Now it is time to learn another new word: infodemiology.


As humans, we are a curious and innovative species. We want to understand the world around us and stay up to date on the challenges we face and how to overcome them. One of the ways we do this is by seeking out and sharing information – lots of it! And internet platforms like Whatsapp, Youtube, or Facebook make this easier than ever before.


Traditionally, people received their information from official communication channels from governments and health agencies. But now, there are news articles and opinion pieces, and messages from vloggers, bloggers, podcasters, and social media influencers. You may also see information shared by friends and family on social media or messaging apps.

All of this is called the infodemic: a flood of information on the COVID-19 pandemic. Infodemiology is the study of that information and how to manage it.


Navigating the infodemic: top tips to identify misinformation or disinformation


Here are 7 steps you can take to navigate this wave of information and decide who and what to trust:

1. Assess the source Who shared the information with you and where did they get it from? Always check the source, even if it is a friend or family member. To check for fake social media accounts, you can check how long profiles have been active, their number of followers, and their most recent posts, for example. For websites, check the “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages to look for background information and legitimate contact details. When it comes to images or videos, there are a number of tools you can use to check their authenticity. For images, you can use Google and TinEye to find out where the image appears online. For videos, you can use Amnesty International's YouTube DatViewer, which gives you more information about the video. Other clues that a source may be unreliable or inaccurate are unprofessional visual design, poor spelling, and grammar, or excessive use of all caps or exclamation points.

2. Go beyond headlines It is very common for headlines to be intentionally sensational or provocative to catch your attention and get high numbers of clicks. Read more than just the headline of an article – go further and look at the entire story, because going by the headline alone can be very misleading. Search more widely than social media for information – look at print sources such as newspapers and magazines, and digital sources such as podcasts and online news sites. Diversifying your sources allows you to get a better picture of what is or is not trustworthy.

3. Identify the author Search the author’s name online to see if they are real or credible. Additionally, you might be able to find out the motive of the author to write the piece.


4. Check the date Always check if it's a recent story. Is it up to date and relevant to current events? Has a headline, image, or statistic been used out of context?

5. Examine the supporting evidence Credible stories back up their claims with facts – for example, quotes from experts or links to statistics or studies. Verify that experts are reliable and that links actually support the story.

6. Check your biases We all have biases and these factor into how we view what’s happening around us. Evaluate your own biases and why you may have been drawn to a particular headline or story. This is because people have a natural tendency to look for arguments that confirm what they already believe and ignore articles and arguments that state otherwise.


What is your interpretation of it? Why did you react to it that way? Does it challenge your assumptions or tell you what you want to hear? What did you learn about yourself from your interpretation or reaction?

7. Turn to fact-checkers When in doubt, consult trusted fact-checking organizations, such as the International Fact-Checking Network and global news outlets focused on debunking misinformation, including the Associated Press and Reuters.



What is the difference between Misinformation and Disinformation? Information is what we call things that are accurate to the best of our current knowledge. For instance, COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease in 2019 and is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. One of the difficulties with any new pathogen, like this coronavirus, is that information changes over time as we learn more about science.

Misinformation, on the other hand, is false information. More importantly, it is false information that was not created with the intention of hurting others. Misinformation is often started by someone who genuinely wants to understand a topic and cares about keeping other people safe and well. It is then shared by others who feel the same. Everyone believes they are sharing good information – but unfortunately, they are not. And depending on what is being shared, the misinformation can turn out to be quite harmful.

At the other end of the spectrum is disinformation. Unlike misinformation, this is false information created with the intention of profiting from it or causing harm. That harm could be to a person, a group of people, an organization, or even a country. Disinformation generally serves some agenda and can be dangerous. During this pandemic, we are seeing it used to try to erode our trust in each other and in our government and public institutions.


How to navigate misinformation and disinformation It helps to think of misinformation and disinformation spreading in the same way as viruses (ironic not?). One person might share fake news with their friends and family, and then a handful of them share it with more of their friends and family, and before you know it, potentially harmful or dangerous information is taking over everyone’s newsfeed.

But just as we can protect against COVID-19 with hand washing, physical distancing, and masks, we can slow down the spread of misinformation and disinformation by practicing some information hygiene. So, before sharing something, ask yourself these questions: How does this make me feel? Why am I sharing this? How do I know if it’s true? Where did it come from? Whose agenda might I be supported by sharing it?

If you know something is false, or if it makes you angry, don’t share it to debunk it or make fun of it. That just spreads the misinformation or disinformation further. Good places to go for reliable information are the websites of your national Ministry of Health or the World Health Organization. Remember, though: information will change as we learn more about the virus. What WHO is doing WHO has developed guidance to help individuals, community leaders, governments and the private sector understand some key actions they can take to manage the COVID-19 infodemic. For instance, WHO has been working closely with more than 50 digital companies and social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitch, Snapchat, Pinterest, Google, Viber, WhatsApp, and YouTube, to ensure that science-based health messages from the organization or other official sources appear first when people search for information related to COVID-19. WHO has also partnered with the Government of the United Kingdom on a digital campaign to raise awareness of misinformation around COVID-19 and encourage individuals to report false or misleading content online. In addition, WHO is creating tools to amplify public health messages – including its WHO Health Alert chatbot, available on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Viber – to provide the latest news and information on how individuals can protect themselves and others from COVID-19. A version of this content from the WHO has been adapted for use by the WYCCF to make it more applicable to the local situation.

Source original document: https://www.who.int/news-room/spotlight/let-s-flatten-the-infodemic-curve


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  • WYCCF

Our Manager of Sister Basilia Center, Mimi Hodge, was invited to speak at Parliament on the invitation of their committee of education, culture, youth and sport affairs.

The topic was special education: a status update of initiatives, programs and needs in the community. Sister Basilia Center is not a special education school but offers quality care to persons with an intellectual disability with keen attention to their full development.


The clients of the SBC all have one thing in common: they all have an intellectual disability. That has as consequence that they function on a lower level then their actual age and need more support during daily activities. To have a safe, stimulating and inviting environment that will give the clients a meaningful and fulfilling life with the following actions:

  • To have clients develop to their full abilities: learning new or maintaining skills which are realistic in light of their developmental level and which are helpful to stimulate independence and self-reliance as much as possible and to offer guidance and support where needed.

  • To have the clients integrated and included in society as much as possible.

  • To provide stimulating and meaningful activities that will enrich their overall well being.

These goals are linked to the rights of persons with an intellectual disability, what we strive to achieve through our work and services by all what we do.

Photo: Mimi Hodge speaking at Parliament


Challenges

Over the years we have witnessed that some schools and communities are not acceptant to persons that have special needs. Oftentimes these persons with special needs are referred to Sister Basilia Center or they get lost in the community. Once their loved ones are diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, and Down syndrome there needs for education, housing, their rights, are a struggle to be met. Parents have little to no resources to remedy their situation, assistance is not always given. Often, they leave the island for better care for their loved ones. It is not easy for parents to just get up and leave their homes and job. And it should also not be necessary, as these children have the right to enjoy education on their own island. Education that meets their needs, not only on primary level but also on secondary level.


Inclusion, dignity, support for families and the right to thrive on your own island, regardless of someone’s abilities, really stood out in her presentation. Mimi was grateful for the opportunity to present the current status and challenges to Parliament and looks forward to continued dialogue to work towards improving the lives of those who are “differently abled”.


We are also very proud of our colleague, Mireya Torrenga, who is the founder and president of the Down Syndrome SXM and Caribbean Foundation (DSSCF). She made a passionate and personal presentation to the committee of education, culture, youth and sports of Parliament, on the topic of special education.


As a mother of a daughter with Down Syndrome she gave the members of parliament an honest and real picture of what life is like when you raise a child on SXM with special needs. With her foundation she aims to improve their chances to full development and to support parents as they navigate the school system, healthcare and their child’s rights to enjoy the best quality of life. Her observation that some parents of children with special needs don’t dream anymore for the future possibilities for their child really hit home to those that saw her presentation. All parents should have dreams for their children and their future, regardless of the disabilities they may have.


Keep fighting Mireya for those that need our help, inclusion and equal rights for all!

Photo: Mireya Torrenga speaking at Parliament

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  • WYCCF

We thank the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary of Sint Maarten for buying books of the Hurricane and Rainbows project. Soon these books will be traveling to the Netherlands to be shared there #proudmoment

Did you know: the ‘Hurricane and Rainbows’ - book is an ideal Christmas (corporate) gift! Besides that, with these books you immediately support a good cause. All profit goes to theWhite and Yellow Cross Care Foundation to continue with projects focused on intergenerational connections. Young and old can learn from each other, looking at the world through different eyes, they connect and enjoy each other's company. Something to invest in, especially in these times.

You can get your copy at the Front desk of the White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation, St. John's Estate Road # 6 (ask for Mirjam Vierhout). You can also contact Caroline van Oost by emailing her at caroline@inspiredsxm.com to discuss another location for pick up and/or delivery! Price is $15,- per book


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