Tackling disinformation in 2024: 6 tips for your day-to-day life
The year 2024 will be full of challenges in the fight against disinformation. With almost a billion people heading to the polls this year all around the world, we urgently need to band together to combat a flood of disinformation and digital manipulation that is about to come. In this article we share 6 tips for you to help combat this danger and do your bit to contribute to the work in this area. By incorporating these strategies, you not only bolster your personal defenses but also contribute meaningfully to the collective resilience required to navigate the complexities of a digital era rife with disinformation.
Tip 1: Inform yourself with quality content and reliable sources.
One of the most key actions to avoid falling prey to disinformation is to be mindful of our information consumption. At the core of this lies information hygiene — practices and habits individuals adopt to manage and maintain the quality, accuracy, and security of the information they consume, create, and share. Actively seeking information from credible, well-established media outlets can increase our information resilience and protect us against hoaxes and lies. Nowadays, not everything that is published on the Internet follows the standards of truthfulness that journalist are required to meet. Established media outlets adhere to rigorous journalistic standards, fact-checking procedures, and editorial oversight, offering a source of quality and reliable information.
Tip 2: Keep an eye on fact-checkers’ news and analyses.
Fact-checkers are entities that are dedicated to monitoring the most rumoured hoaxes and misinformation on the Internet, and to producing articles and analyses about them, in which they explain them, debunk them or provide context. By regularly checking fact-checkers, you gain access to expert insights and objective evaluations of the accuracy of news stories circulating online, as well as overview of the disinformations and hoaxes being spread. In a digital era where misinformation can proliferate rapidly, integrating fact-checkers’ updates into your information diet empowers you to being informed about those contents that seek to deceive you.
Tip 3: Avoid sharing in autopilot mode.
Surely, you have seen someone who sees a catchy headline about a hot topic on Twitter and automatically shares it, without looking at or reading the actual news story. In the age of quick publishing and the fight for attention, it’s easy to succumb to the allure of instant sharing. However, this can inadvertently contribute to the spread of misinformation. To counter this, cultivate a habit of pausing before sharing content, especially on social media. Take a moment to delve beyond the headline, scrutinize the details, and assess the credibility of the source. By resisting the urge to share in autopilot mode, you play a crucial role in breaking the chain of disinformation, promoting a culture of thoughtful content sharing, and fortifying the digital space against the proliferation of inaccuracies
Tip 4: Cross-check information
Before sharing or believing a news story, always check what other sources are writing. Are other sources writing the same story? Do the details match up? If yes, it is safe to trust. Always remember that if something important is discovered or an important event just happened, more than one source would be writing about it. Therefore, cross-checking information allows us to double check if the provided information is accurate.
Tip 5: Details are key
One of the best ways of deciphering if something is disinformation, is paying attention to the details. Many disinformation narratives are translated from other languages and therefore have a high probability of grammatical and spelling errors. If you see these types of mistakes, it should serve as a warning sign that the source might be untrustworthy. Additionally, pay attention to dates and spelling of names – a trustworthy source would not publish information with such obvious mistakes.
Tip 6: Always think critically
Does the information elicit strong emotions? Does the information seem too good to be true? It is essential that we question what we read and analyse it before we believe it. Evaluate whether the information makes sense and aligns with reality. If there is provided evidence, check the sources. Analyse whether the information source or author is trustworthy or not. If the source elicits strong emotions, think about why the author would want to evoke these specific emotions. Draw your own conclusions from what you read rather than allowing someone else to do your thinking for you. This type of critical thinking allows us to engage with the information we intake and increases the chances of uncovering disinformation.
Tackling disinformation is no easy task and it is an ongoing battle. With so much chaos in the information space, it is not a surprise that sometimes we need a little help with deciphering whether something is disinformation. Resources like fact-checking websites are vital in our fight against disinformation and are a very useful tool for building a resilient society. Donating and continuing to fund such organizations is just another way of fighting disinformation.