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News Literacy Week: How to combat the avalanche of misinformation

News Literacy
Posted at 5:30 AM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 12:24:07-05

INDIANAPOLIS — We continue our special series this week on the topic of news literacy. It's the third year WRTV, along with our parent company E.W. Scripps, has partnered with the News Literacy Project.

Our goal is to give you some essential life skills to discern fact from fiction in today's media world and to provide you with tools to arm yourself against misinformation.

Peter Adams is the senior vice president of education for the News Literacy Project.

He says we are programmed to graze online. It's part of our survival as we wade through all the information available at our fingertips around the clock. But in doing that grazing and scrolling, we can go on autopilot.

Adams says we often let news find us rather than seeking out multiple credible sources, and critical thinking.

"We are all hard wired to engage with the world using mental shortcuts," Adams says. "The biggest way that bad actors get around our rational minds and our critical thinking is to inflame strong emotions."

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A huge amount of data is processed every minute on the internet.

Adams says if you are scrolling and something makes you have an emotional reaction, rather than immediately sharing with your followers or friends, to stop and think critically.

"Slow down, pause, engage kind of your deeper critical thinking skills," Adams says. "Misinformation is exploitative. It doesn't help your politics, even if it seems to re-enforce something you believe or something that is important to you."

He adds that sharing misinformation damages your credibility and adds to the avalanche of misinformation already out there, so stop and think before you share.

He suggests finding the true source of the information and making sure it is a source you can trust.

Trusted news sources are transparent. Look for sources that credit their information. They don't ask you to trust them simply because of who they are and when these sources they make a mistake, they are open about that and they show you that they corrected it. He says its important to build a list of local and national sources you can trust with credible, unbiased information.

One way to double-check a source before you share it, especially if it is a photo of something controversial like a protest, COVID unit in a hospital, border wall, etc. is by doing a reverse image search.

There are several search engines that do this, including Google, and Adams tells WRTV that the technology gets better as time goes on.

All photos online are made up of pixels and these search engines look for patterns and matches, and can often spot duplicate patterns and can show you where else that photo has been used in the past.

Adams details how to do this in a few simple steps here.

Keep in mind, the misinformation can spread like wildfire on the web, so it is important to be a good steward of what you share in your own circles.

According to the data company, DOMO, in one minute's time on the internet, 575,000 tweets get posted to Twitter, users watch 167 million TikTok videos, 5.7 million google searches take place, viewers watch 694 hours of video on Youtube, and Amazon customers spend $283,000 on average, among other things.

A lot can happen in a minute on the web, so for more tips and tricks to keep your feed full of credible information, visit newslit.org.