A few weeks back, some great, while sometimes challenging conversations about the upcoming elections happened on my Facebook.
By Chrissy Clary
A few weeks back, some great, while sometimes challenging conversations about the upcoming elections happened on my Facebook. I’ve read many different positions from brave and passionate people to those who participated in the dialogue: thank you. Even if you don’t feel like you swayed the opposition, you were willing to stand up for what you believe in, and I think that is what it means to be American.
However, I am concerned. I see too much information shared that does not come from credible sources. Much of it may be coming to us from deviant organizations with the intent of manipulating the outcome of the elections; maybe it is the Chinese or the Russians, perhaps it is an army of teenagers from TikTock, perhaps the information isn’t even coming from humans. It is not that hard for any web developer to hook up a bot designed to deliver fake content to your favorite social media site.
See, we, humans are suffering from information overload. According to an article in Sci Eng Ethics, in an attempt to deal with this overload, we will filter out information and opt for data that align with our worldview, singling out the puzzling information or focusing on the information received first.
Much of it may be coming to us from deviant organizations with the intent of manipulating the outcome of the elections; maybe it is the Chinese or the Russians, perhaps it is an army of teenagers from Ticktock, perhaps the information isn’t even coming from humans.
The article goes on to explain, “information overload impairs decision-making in at least two ways: firstly, it makes it harder for individuals to locate the information due to sheer volume; secondly, it makes it difficult for individuals to locate the critically relevant information for a particular task.
Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post reporter, explains, “If you’re a hoaxer, it’s more profitable. Since early 2014, a series of internet entrepreneurs have realized that not much drives traffic as effectively as stories that vindicate and/or inflame the biases of their readers. Where many once wrote celebrity death hoaxes or “satires,” they now run entire, successful websites that do nothing but troll convenient minorities or exploit gross stereotypes…”
Listen, we can fight amongst ourselves all day long. But who our next president is is a decision that should be made by the American people. And the only way to do that is to make sure the content we are using to make our decisions is factual and coming from a credible source.
It is our choice and our responsibility to be informed and confirm our assumptions with research. The question then becomes, how do we cut through all the crap and know if what we are reading is trustworthy?
So how do you know what or who to trust? What resources, tools, or tricks do you use to check the validity of a story someone shared with you? How do you know if an image or video has been edited?
Pleases share your recommendations in the comment section of this post or on the DCG blog. I will update the blog post with the recommendations shared.