A BRADFORD-based consultancy is aiming to stop the spread of "fake news" around Covid-19 by distributing an informative leaflet across the district.

Empowering Minds, an organisation which seeks to address radicalisation, grooming and exploitation, tackles the topics of "misinformation" and "disinformation" in the leaflet.

It aims to share it with around "500 to 1,000" people across the district - according to its founder, Sofia Mahmood - and is encouraging people to follow "trusted sources of information", rather than blindly believing speculation or rumours.

"There is a lot of information being spread at the moment which isn't authentic, and it has triggered a lot of tensions", Sofia said.

"There have been rumours about what councils and local authorities are doing amid Covid, but I spoke to them and none of the information was true. It just circulates on social media or WhatsApp and people pass it on.

"Other examples are when people were saying that the army was going to come and police the lockdown, and a rumour that if your children get Covid, the authorities are going to take them. None of it was true, but it all went viral on social media.

"There is a lot of disinformation around Covid and that's why we've designed this leaflet, to combat that."

Empowering Minds is encouraging people to only share information if they know it is correct and to research things properly before sharing.

It adds that some people or groups deliberately spread false news - wanting to create "mistrust and confusion" - and this is known as 'disinformation'.

Other people share posts or articles without knowing if they are true or not, and this is 'misinformation'.

The leaflet adds that fake news is 70 per cent more likely to be shared - as it is "designed" to make us feel "angry and outraged".

"There are so many mixed messages and people don't know what's correct and what isn't. The technology we have today is so advanced that people are able to send things so easily, regardless of whether they are true are not", Sofia adds.

"A lot of people have genuine concerns about Covid and vaccination - we have to provide them with clear answers and the opportunities to address those questions.

"We have to provide people with the skills to be able to dissect the information they're getting.

"It's all about counteracting those myths. The virus is real, people must understand that. What people need to realise is that the virus itself and political movements are different things."

Sofia believes that a lot of the myths around Covid-19 have come about due to people losing trust in the Government.

"There is so much confusion with the information that we've been getting from the Government, so people are now doing their own research", she said.

"Communities don't have trust in the Government, and you can't blame them for having their own opinions. But at the same time, it's about providing people with factual information and clear answers.

"The leaflet has a list of services which people can speak to about the issue of fake news. We want to improve people's critical thinking skills and enable them to properly analyse the information they're given."