How you can spot misinformation on social media

Social Media
Posted at 12:19 PM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 14:20:06-05

GREAT FALLS — From the coronavirus pandemic to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the stakes are high when it comes to receiving and spreading information online.

There is more access now than ever to information, which can be incredibly powerful but also dangerous when shared without proper fact-checking. In an era where social media is integral in receiving that information, misinformation begins to run rampant.

Social media platforms have varying degrees of censorship on this misinformation. Therefore, it is individuals' responsibility to take extreme caution in what posts and information is spread.

Brendan Palla, a philosophy professor, urges folks to validate sources before sharing or reposting on personal social media platforms.

"Be really careful about what you repost and what you share. Think about yourself as someone who is a truth bearer and a truth-teller," Palla said. "Before you tell that truth, do you have confidence in that source?"

Verifying the validity of photos and videos can be incredibly challenging but according to Palla, it is important to ask, "is this information internally consistent, and is this information willing to acknowledge unpleasant truths?"

He describes the New York Times as a news source that condemns the invasion of Ukraine but still acknowledges the casualties and loss of infrastructure due to the invasion. In addition, Professor Palla says a lot of the claims coming from the Kremlin have not been internally consistent.

To conclude, the situations where folks should be most cautious, according to Palla, is when a source provides information that further proves our point or stance on an issue. Clearly, it is human nature to fall victim to misinformation when it goes along with our line of thinking.

"Be a little more careful about what we buy on Facebook, give it that second or third glance before we bite — especially if it confirms your beliefs!" Palla concluded.