Tips to remember when you are browsing online platforms!

Posted on 20th Apr 2021

  1. Has the story been reported by any credible media outlets? 
  2. Does the content invoke a strong emotional response? 
  3. Does the content seem too good to be true? 
  4. Are there any other sources sharing the same information? 
  5. Check the URL for any strange numbers/added letters (this usually indicates a dodgy website; if you aren’t sure, check it on KnowNews).

Disinformation, like any other trend, seems to have its own peaks and troughs, depending on what is happening politically, who is pushing the disinformation, and what issues are being highlighted. When do we see an increase in disinformation circulating across social media platforms? 

Over the last few months, a topic that has dominated the media (and online platforms) has been Covid-19 vaccines, including strategies for using different vaccines and why, and government strategies for vaccine roll-out. This issue has created an opportunity for conspiracy theories, and proponents of disinformation to thrive. The issue of vaccines is a complicated one. It is scientific and it is often difficult to easily understand all the moving parts. 

More importantly, it’s a complicated public interest issue that needs to be effectively communicated to the public by those in power. This speaks to the responsibility that the government has to communicate, consistently, openly and effectively. For media it is important to take that communication, understand it, and if necessary, translate it for their audiences in order for the public to easily understand complex problems. Good communication reduces the opportunity for those trying to cause public harm, to confuse, create doubt and mistrust and spread unscientific, unverified, false information.