In last week’s blog we delved into the key findings from the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer. The survey highlighted concerning statistics about how people consume and share information online, and the negative impact this is having on society (you can read all about it here).
With just one in four people admitting to practicing good information hygiene, we thought it would be useful to break down exactly what that means and the simple steps we can all take to prevent the spread of fake news.
According to Edelman, “Good information hygiene is all about training yourself to think pro-actively about the information you see and share online. This means having regular engagement with news, engagement with different points of view and not amplifying or spreading misinformation.”
Fake news is not a new issue, but with more people than ever turning to the internet for information and connections, the problem is escalating at an alarming rate.
The good news is that there are things we can all be doing to take-action against the spread of dangerous misinformation:
Pause: Always try to keep your emotional response in check. Fake news tends to use dramatic and emotive language to draw people in, whereas credible news stories will include reliable facts and quotes from official spokespeople. If a story begins with a shocking headline or triggers strong emotions, take a moment to consider why.
Check your biases: It’s human nature to gravitate toward the people and information that align with our opinions and beliefs, but this can mean we only ever see one side of an argument. It’s easy to believe you’re right when you surround yourself with those who agree with you!
Credible journalists always assess both sides of an argument and will support opinions with facts in-order to report a balanced view. Keep this in mind and try to look at alternative opinions before taking any action.
Research the author: Does the article name check the author? Do you know anything about them? Are you reading opinion or facts? If you aren’t sure who has written the information you’re consuming, take a moment to dig a bit deeper into who they are, what else they have covered and whether they are a qualified and reliable source of information.
If no author is named, be wary about the article’s credibility. Reputable journalists will never be afraid to put their name against their work.
Check the URL: At first glance, it can be easy to assume a news story has come from a verified source, but appearances can be deceiving. Always check a news source has come from a trusted URL. Trusted URLs will typically contain, “.com”, “.co.uk”, “.net”, “.org”. Never share a story without checking this.
Who else is reporting the story: Before sharing anything, look to see if the story or information has been covered by reputable news sources. If nobody else is reporting the same story, there’s a very high chance you’ve been presented with unreliable information.
Don’t be fooled by images: We all know a picture can tell a thousand words, but in today’s world, pictures (and even video) can be fake too. Don’t assume that images present the facts. The truth is it is common place to see heavily edited or out of date images used alongside articles.
Check the date: It sounds obvious, but always check the date on the news source you’re reading. Online bots use automated systems to distribute huge volumes of information without taking into consideration the dates of the articles. The story may appear in-front of you in real time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is current or accurate.
Report suspicions: It only takes a minute to report suspicious information and the more we do this, the stronger we become in the fight against fake news. Check individual social media platforms and search engines for specific instructions.
If in doubt, don’t share! Apply common sense to your approach. If you don’t have the time to practice good information hygiene, or if you aren’t 100% sure about the credibility of the information you are seeing don’t share it!
We can all do our bit to stop misinformation spreading. If you are concerned there may be fake news circulating around your business, reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be sure to help!