Youth Against Misinformation launches to tackle COVID-19 “infodemic”

Twenty-three young people have formed a new group to root out misinformation about COVID-19 in a bid to stop it spreading online and doing harm.

The Youth Against Misinformation group will help track and record evidence of misinformation to help analyse emerging trends and create a real-time picture of how fake news about COVID-19 is spreading online, as well as report these posts to social media platforms to have them removed.

Trained and supported by youth organisation Restless Development and the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), the group of volunteers will also educate social media users who are inadvertently sharing misinformation by pointing them towards trusted sources such as the World Health Organisation.

“I experienced the impact of misinformation, fueled by racism and xenophobia, first hand during the Ebola outbreak in 2016. Being black and part African, people accused me of having the virus and spreading it around.

I jumped at the chance to take a stand against people spreading misinformation. We want more young people to join our efforts, so if you want to help stop the spread of dangerous misinformation online, then get in touch.”

– Alana*, UK, member of Youth Against Misinformation.

*Name has been changed to protect the volunteer’s identity

Misinformation is spreading fast:

X Fake “cures” or “preventative treatments” for Covid-19 are being promoted and sold online, including “drinkable” silver, which can turn people’s skin irreversibly blue.

X Conspiracy theories about the origins of the virus, that can lead people to ignore official advice on social distancing and washing hands, and have also motivated attacks on 5G mobile network masts.

X Racial/religious hatred – that certain ethnic groups are deliberately spreading the virus, or are responsible for the creation of the virus.

In the short space of time that volunteers have been active, hundreds of pieces of misinformation have already been found, recorded and reported. 63 inadvertent spreaders of misinformation have been tweeted at by volunteers, 13 of whom replied or deleted their tweet.

“My dad is still working as a bus driver at Transport for London and I have elderly grandparents who have underlying health issues, so my family and I understand first-hand the distress and anxiety that misinformation can cause. I want to be part of this project as it will bring more peace and truth to worrying families and friends during this stressful and intense time.”

– Sara, UK, A member of the Youth Against Misinformation.

*Name has been changed to protect the volunteer’s identity

“COVID-19 misinformation is spreading fast and doing harm. Young people are typically digital natives and perfect leaders in the fight against misinformation. Worldwide there are countless young people doing incredible work to respond to COVID-19.

Youth Against Misinformation is the latest show of youth power and will help close the digital distance between the misinformation spreaders and the health authorities, and share correct information to save lives.”

– Rosanne Palmer-White, UK Director at Restless Development.

“This initiative will capture new and trending misinformation on social media and messaging apps. This data could be vital in helping the volunteers, as well as governments and civil society, deal with threats to public safety and counter the instrumentalisation of COVID by hostile forces, whether they be state actors or domestic hate groups, determined to split our societies.”

– Imran Ahmed, CEO, CCDH.

The initiative is currently working with volunteers in the UK, but their reach across social media is global. The project will be expanded to work with volunteers in different countries around the world.

Youth Against Misinformation. Stop the Spread Online.

This initiative is being coordinated and supported by Restless Development and the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

It has two aims: to monitor and root out dangerous COVID-19 misinformation online; and build the skill-set and agency of young people to understand how misinformation is spread online, identify fake news and develop strategies to tackle it.

Volunteers receive comprehensive training on how to identify, report and respond to harmful misinformation online, following five principles of CCDH’s Don’t Spread the Virus campaign.

Take action.

Any individuals interested in volunteering with Youth Against Misinformation can fill in our expression of interest form.

You can read more about tackling misinformation and mythbusting on our blog.

Get in touch.

If you are a journalist and would like more information please contact

Why Restless Development is committed to tackling misinformation.

X Misinformation is dangerous and causing harm. When people follow incorrect guidance about COVID-19, it can put their lives at risk and hamper our collective efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

X Misinformation is spreading fast online because it can be difficult to track the source of the information and can easily be multiplied. 

A recent study found that of 225 pieces of COVID-19 misinformation, 88% were spread online, compared to 8% on TV and 9% on news outlets.

X By reporting how and where misinformation is spread, we can keep the pressure on social media companies to remove misinformation.

X Some misinformation about COVID-19 has led to xenophobia and racism. Turning the tide on the pandemic needs unity between nations and people, not division.

X Having correct information can empower individuals and communities to take the right action to protect themselves and others.

Stopping the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak and the progress made to reduce rates of HIV have both relied on communities being equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions and protect themselves.

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