Stopping the Spread of Misinformation Online

Learn from one local journalism professor on how you can decipher fake news from real news!

Posted: Apr 1, 2021 5:40 PM

WABASH VALLEY (WTHI) - Today is April fools day, but the amount of misinformation on the internet is no joke. This is an ongoing problem in today's society, especially in recent years. In a recent study by Statista, they found nearly 50% of users shared misinformation online without knowing it was inaccurate.

More people are now relying on social media for their day-to-day news and this causes misinformation to spread very quickly. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management found false information spreads far more quickly than the truth, especially on social media. Specifically, they found inaccurate tweets are 70% more likely to be retweeted on Twitter than the truth.

Many people find this hard to believe, but there are solutions to know how to look out for inaccuracy online and on social platforms.

"Often, the people who get duked by information are the ones who are less engaged with information as a whole," Lori Henson, a journalism professor at Indiana State University, said. "It is important to stay up to date on events in a consistent way, and it is important to assess multiple news sources if you think something is outrageous or strange."

Additionally, Henson says it is important to take the time to do extra research on something you are unsure is real or not.

"It requires a little bit of digging if you are going to be sure that something is real," Henson said.

If you see a family member or friend sharing false information, Henson suggests you try to kindly engage them in conversation.
She says this is one way we can help stop the spread of misinformation online.

"It doesn't really help to confront someone or argue with them," she said. "What works best is to meet them where they are. Try to engage people in conversation. For the most part, people are trying to do the best they can. They are trying to sort through an incredible, infinite sea of information and pick out the things that feel important. We have to help each other find the best information we can."

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