We have all shared information that turned out to be wrong. In the old days, it was simply called gossip. Now thanks to social media, it’s dividing us as a nation.
We’re passing on misinformation, fake news and conspiracy theories without even thinking about it. If we read or see something – especially something that supports what we already believe – we pass it on without checking to see if the information is true. It’s time for all of us to take responsibility and fact check everything, and I mean everything.
You may have the best of intentions and care deeply about the issues, but if you don’t have time to confirm it’s true, please DON’T forward or share it.
Just because a friend shares it or the source has a legitimate-sounding name, does not mean it’s true. It’s also important to note that when you reshare while refuting conspiracy theories and disinformation, you can end up amplifying the original falsehoods because of the way Facebook/twitter/etc have their algorithms set. The more clicks the better, even if it’s to say it’s false, just adds to its newsworthiness.
“Every time we click “share” on those divisive memes, or pass on the fake news story that we haven’t substantiated from credible sources we are contributing to people who want to divide and conquer our country by turning us against each other and then fanning the flames. Don’t be sucked into sharing false information presented as facts.”
So make a decision to stop, today. Make up your mind to not be one of those people who contribute to blindly passing on misinformation. Don’t help them by spreading their lies.
What can you do?
- STOP: The first thing we all need to do is stop responding instantly. Think. Don’t react from a place of anger or fear. We don’t think clearly when we’re emotional.
- QUESTION: Ask yourself questions, such as how is this post trying to persuade, change, or influence me? How does it make me feel? What is the purpose?
- RESEARCH: Use multiple sources. At a minimum, check out a source’s profile, google them, see if they’re on Wikipedia. If you can’t personally vouch for the information, don’t share it.
IMPORTANT: Use reputable sources. It doesn’t do any good to research a topic if you’re using conspiracy theory outlets or extreme right or left-wing sites. Below are some good sources for checking information.
- Wikipedia an online encyclopedia
- Snopes the oldest and largest fact-checking site online
- News Guard rates reliability of online news sites and their record of publishing accurate information
- Media Bias Fact Check Rates the bias of over 3200+ media sources
- Fact Check is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.
Bottom line: Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t forward, post, tweet, or share anything unless you can personally verify it. I understand that this is time-consuming. If you don’t want to do the research, that’s ok, just don’t share it.
Here’s a better idea, let kindness in. Instead of sharing all the negative news that you can’t vouch for, try a week of sending positive news, funny stories, or cute animal pictures and videos. It will leave you and the people you share with feeling much happier.
Like this adorable picture of Matt’s dog, Tyson. Hope it makes you smile.
Is there someone who inspires you with their kindness? Nominate them for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Award of $250.
Do you have an act-of-kindness project you want to do but need help funding it? Submit your idea for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant of $250 and let us help you spread kindness.