The slippery slope of misinformation and disinformation is getting steeper. And when you add politics to the mix, it’s like throwing oil on the slope, too. While I am encouraged that many people are adapting and learning to challenge what they read and hear, I believe this is a fight where those of us in the communications industry must remain ever diligent.
Let’s call it what it is – fake news. Fake news comes in many forms; from honest mistakes at one end to outright deception on the other. There are many tools available to help research whether something is true or not. Check out the Doubt It and Keep Truth Well campaigns by the Canadian Journalism Foundation. They demonstrate how we can protect ourselves with some easy steps.
First, consider the source of the information. Does the person or organization have a vested interested in wanting you to believe it is true? Then look at the qualifications and expertise of the source. For example, a trained epidemiologist from an accredited university or hospital probably has a more informed opinion on things like public health than someone who is seeking to gain or hold political office.
Second, challenge yourself to consume news from a variety of sources, not just the news outlets that seem to match your opinions. This will help you ask better questions and to advance your thinking.
And third – this is most important – give more thought before you share. The Doubt It website also has links to tools to see if the content in question has been debunked, or if the images being used are in fact legitimate or even related to the issue being put forward.
It’s important to keep challenging. Those looking to spread misinformation are counting on us – regular people – to legitimize their agendas by becoming conduits to new audiences. Listen to the engaging conversation on the PRGN Presents podcast, which dives deeper into the topic and what public relations professionals can do to keep up the fight.
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