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Unfounded COVID-19 treatment claims appear on social media platforms

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Since the start of the pandemic, the Federal Trade Commission has sent hundreds of cease and desist letters to companies who have claimed that their products and therapies can prevent, treat or cure COVID-19. Vendors promoted their products and services through a variety of outlets, including social media.

Social media platforms have played a major role in conveying information on how to help stop the spread of COVID-19. But just because the information is posted on a platform you are using does not mean that it is correct or truthful. Right now, no one can afford to take information at face value. Before acting on a post you’ve seen or before sharing it, ask – and answer – these essential questions:

  • Whose message is it from? Do I know them? Do I trust them? Am i sure they are who they to say they are?
  • What do they want me to do? Just know something – or are they trying to get me to act somehow? Do they want me to buy something, download something, or give away personal information?
  • What evidence supports the message? Use independent sources to check the facts – or debunk them. Maybe talk to someone you trust. But always check, using a few additional sources. Once you’ve done that, does the post still seem accurate? Approaching information by asking and answering these questions can help you determine what is useful … and what is a scam. So, for example, if the message concerns a treatment or a cure, you know where to go: Coronavirus.gov.

Bottom line: When you stumble upon information, stop. Talk to someone else. Focus on whether the facts support the information you are hearing. Good, solid evidence will point you in the right direction. Then decide what you think and what you want to do with the message – get it across, act on it, ignore it, or roll your eyes at it. And if you suspect a scam, notify the FTC at RapportFraud.ftc.gov so we can stop the crooks.

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