By Dr. Phillip Stone
As League members, we recognize that not all of the information that’s spreading on social media and other outlets is good information. How do we make sure that we are reading and sharing accurate information, particularly as it relates to democracy, with our friends and families?
The Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency has a website that talks about misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation.
The easiest thing for you to do when you see a story or social media post that just doesn’t sound right is to verify it on some other website. Think about what you are reading. Ask questions like:
A false story spreads faster than the truth online. Once shared, bad information doesn’t go away. It just keeps spreading. Stories about Bill Murray running for president, even when debunked and denied, spread for months. Dis-information in particular can be designed to cause harm or sow division. Some stories can manipulate the stock market or further polarize an already divided electorate. In recent years, issues that have become especially polarizing - stories related to Covid-19 or election denialism - have spread to willing audiences.
The Rand Corporation has a site about what they call “truth decay” that has tools and links that can help you check information. Rand particularly notes an increasing disagreement about facts, a blurring between fact and opinion writing, and a decline in trust in formerly respected sources of facts. Too often, readers won’t even believe it when you challenge their post with facts, often responding that the site you are referencing is itself biased.
Sometimes the best we can do as responsible citizens is make sure that we ourselves aren’t helping share bad information. If in doubt, don't share it!
The LWVS Blog is authored by members of the League of Women Voters of Spartanburg County with a central editor.