It’s hard to discern what to believe and what to question, what with fake news and improved deep fake videos. Misinformation has been commonly used as a propagandistic tactic to distract, confuse, and redirect public opinion by many countries throughout history. In World War Two, the Germans occupied the Netherlands in 1940 and converted a popular newspaper into a propaganda outlet to feed the public disinformation about the great strength of the Nazi army and the failures of the Allies.
These psychological tactics are nothing new, although studies have shown social media has proliferated the problem of disinformation. To help you navigate through this minefield and cut through the chaos, consider these tips to help you discern what to watch out for online.
Look for misleading or old videos
There is a large amount of real heart-wrenching footage coming from the ground in Ukraine. Although, some widespread videos have been proven to be taken from previous wars and video games. To combat this, look out for clues such as the languages being spoken, the weather, and road signs.
Another good way to check the legitimacy of a source is also to use reverse image searches, here you can see when and where the photo or video has been shared previously. This tool is available on a number of platforms, like Google Image Search, TinEye, and many more.
Consider who is sharing it and motivation
Go straight to the source and look at the account that shared the information. Do they look like a real person? Are they clearly trying to push a narrative? Certain levels of disingenuousness might be right. Again, a reverse image search of their profile picture may reveal if they’re fake.
It has also been shown that many propaganda accounts previously reporting false claims about the Covid pandemic have now redirected their efforts to share false information about the war. Arguments that the people who have been injured are “actors” is a classic tactic that has even recently been pushed by Russian diplomats.
Take a second to think
The frightening footage online has made many of us feel obliged to share and comment on the situation. Although, as the circumstances are emotionally charged it triggers a reaction and causes people to share a post before they might check it is real. Take a second to breathe and consider implementing some of the tips above before deciding if to share or not.
To help you quiet some of the noise online, The Optimist Daily compiled a list of trusted global news sources to feed you reliable information during this head spinning time.