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Understanding and then Countering Misinformation and Disinformation

It is everywhere and we individually have to be watchful!

One of greatest dangers today is the problem of living in an information age that can propagate information "out of thin air" to stir up people into believing all manner of bad information. Exhibit A: Qanon messaging.

The Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has a terrific pamphlet out that describes all the different kinds of mis- and disinformation that is out there today. I highly recommend you read and save Tactics of Disinformation. This publication runs through all the various means used to corrupt people's thinking.

In addition to understanding how you might be approached by such messaging, there are these recommendations to help you think before you click and more importantly forward information that is meant to harm. I've copied those tips into this blog post below:

  • Recognize the risk. Understand how disinformation actors leverage these tactics to push their
    agenda. Be wary of manipulative content that tries to divide. [meaning cause division between groups of people]

  • Question the source. Critically evaluate content and its origin to determine whether it’s trustworthy.

  • Research the author’s credentials, consider the outlet’s agenda, and verify the supporting facts.

  • Investigate the issue. Conduct a thorough, unbiased search into contentious issues by looking at
    what credible sources are saying and considering other perspectives. Rely on credible sources of
    information, such as government sites.

  • Think before you link. Slow down. Don’t immediately click to share content you see online. Check the
    facts first. Some of the most damaging disinformation spreads rapidly via shared posts that seek to
    elicit an emotional reaction that overpowers critical thinking.

  • Talk with your social circle. Engage in private, respectful conversations with friends and family when
    you see them sharing information that looks like disinformation. Be thoughtful what you post on
    social media.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.