Americans must act to protect themselves—and their communities—from mis- and disinformation. The Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States has five quick tips to help you avoid consuming and sharing false news:
- Consume information purposefully—and limit your time on news and social apps. First, be aware of how, why, when, and where you are getting your information. Less is usually more when it comes to time spent on social media and consuming news. Consider placing a daily time limit on social media apps.
- Check your emotions. Online campaigns designed to deceive and divide us thrive on highly emotional content. If you find yourself outraged by what you are reading, stop and investigate. Know that regardless of the source, if you feel strong emotions attached to information, it is usually designed to get you to take an action like share, buy, or donate.
- Question the source and cross check the story. When you come across surprising or outrageous news, check the source and Google the topic to see if other news sources are reporting the same. If you don’t find much to corroborate the story, it’s best not to engage.
- Think before you share. Even if the story is from a reputable outlet, ask yourself why you are sharing this information with your social network. Ask yourself if there is a form of in-person community engagement that can make more of an impact.
- Be accountable. Remember that YOU are a trusted source of information for your friends and family, so if you share a piece of information that turns out to be false or misleading, take responsibility and correct it.
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.