Last month we joined the #StopHateforProfit campaign and paused Facebook advertising in order to demand the company address the hate, bigotry, racism, and violence promoted on its platform.
“When we joined the #StopHateForProfit campaign, we pledged to suspend advertisements on Facebook and Instagram for at least the month of July and called on other companies to join us. We did so because we believe Facebook is no longer committed to spreading truth and supporting the work of journalists. Instead, it is playing fast and loose with misinformation, promoting hateful and misleading content, and undermining its civic responsibility to its billions of users,” said Joy Howard, Dashlane’s CMO.
In the age of Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter, amongst protests and campaigns to end police violence, social media has taken on even more significance in our daily lives. It can be tough to navigate the endless influx of information, to know when to share and what to engage with.
To that end, Twitter recently released a “read it before you Tweet it,” feature, prompting users to open articles before sharing with their followers. The intent is to limit misinformation and promote productive online discourse.
With a constant stream of share-worthy content, not to mention all the time in the world to spend on our phones, it’s tempting to re-post and re-blog content quickly and often. But it’s not a bad idea to slow down and evaluate what we’re sharing before we get trigger-happy. As brands come together to #StopHateForProfit, how can individuals be more thoughtful about the spread of misinformation?
A recent study found a third of the public believes false information about Covid-19. Posts can start to lose their meaning if they’re not shared mindfully, like the many Instagram stories that have been shared surrounding anti-racism. Here are some practices to keep in mind to tamp down on misinformation and get into a groove of sharing news responsibly.
Read past the headline
According to a study conducted by Columbia University, 60% of Americans don’t read past headlines before they share a link to a story. This can be attributed to many different factors: Journalist Emily Rose Thorne argues that it’s not about how lazy we are as readers—it’s that we’re overwhelmed by a constant barrage of news on social media. Not only that, but we perceive headlines to tell more of a complete truth than they actually do, despite our familiarity with “clickbait.” For a lot of us, a headline that confirms what we already believe (an example of “confirmation bias”) is good enough for us to share without delving further.
Check your news literacy
We often talk about digital literacy in children, but it turns out adults could use a refresher as well. The News Literacy Project is a great place to start for evaluating how you engage with news online. They even offer quizzes to test your knowledge of current events, especially while misinformation is being widely circulated online. They recommend a simple four-step checklist before sharing an article: pause, scan the comments for a fact-check, conduct your own quick fact-check, and ask the sharer to provide their source.
Consider the content that’s being shared and your audience
News stories and visuals can be traumatic depending on their nature. Take a moment to ask yourself the value of sharing images or videos that depict a violent act. Chances are, it’s already been circulating online and doesn’t need another repost. Think about your audience and how seeing something like this might affect them.
Go straight to the source—and give credit
News rarely makes its way to us in the form of articles alone: it could be a Tweet or an Instagram post with sharable info. Make sure to find the creator of a teachable graphic before reposting. Not only will this offer insight into how valid a story or claim is, it will also allow you to appropriately credit the person doing the work to share the information. You can continue to follow them if they’re a reliable source, and even make a financial contribution to their teaching efforts
Just like reading past a headline, researching to understand the message behind a graphic or quote can lead to more meaningful conversations and change.