How I Combat Misinformation

Photo by United Nations COVID-19 Response on Unsplash

There are large ethical concerns regarding the spread of misinformation online. A few of these concerns would fall under context. Many times, misinformation is spread on purpose in order to sway, or influence, groups of people into believing something is true. Today, news and other articles may be misleading and this disinformation can be especially targeted towards vulnerable people, intentionally or unintentionally. Claire Wardle describes that there are three elements to disinformation online: Type of content, motivation of content, and how that content is disseminated on the internet (Wardle, 2017). I believe that the ethics of misinformation really tend to lie in those three categories.

Given the readings, we read up on a plethora of ways to go about at researching and “fact-checking” information found online. One of the techniques that aligns mostly to how I go about looking at information is the “ABCD” method. This method checks the authority of the writer and what their relationship is to the topic. Next, bias should be checked. C represents currency, looking at when and the context of the article written. Lastly, D represents documentation. It is important for an author to be able to back up any argument made with evidence. As well as, looking for links and other readings to further research and reading (The University of Iowa, 2021).

Last week, Texas was hit by snow and ice, causing chaos in Texas. In the midst of this, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas thought it would be a nice idea to forgo helping Texans, to instead go to the Bahamas. A tweet circulated after this news came out. This tweet said “I’ll believe in climate change when Texas freezes over”, which was doctored to show that it was tweeted in 2016. This tweet went viral, however, it was proven that the tweet was never actually posted by Ted Cruz. There are a number of reasons this disinformation went viral. Within context, Ted Cruz has been openly critical of climate change, so when a multitude of problems erupted after Texas froze, this tweet seemed like something that Ted Cruz would say. However, after a search — it can be uncovered that there are no indications that Ted Cruz ever tweeted the tweet. This misinformation can be classified as imposter content, as it seemed like Ted Cruz really tweeted this, but did not.

She/Her. Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. Trying to do good.

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Haley Chamberlin

Haley Chamberlin

She/Her. Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. Trying to do good.

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