Five Steps To Avoid Election Misinformation

from News Literacy Project

Nothing is more fundamental to democracy than information. It’s what we use to understand which issues are most important, and to assess which policies and political candidates are best suited to address those concerns.

A democracy thrives when its citizens are informed and can wither when they are misled and deceived — especially in an election year, when political messaging appears nonstop in our social-media feeds and foreign agents amp up their campaigns to divide and polarize us.

As the 2020 presidential campaign heats up, here are five ways that you can protect yourself from being misled by political misinformation.

More here.

Posted in Media and tagged , , .


  1. The beauty of America is our democracy and our ability to chose who we elect into office. We often elect someone who aligns with our beliefs and who we feel will adequately represent those ideals. Especially in politics, where bipartisanship is very much present, we are inclined to believe that the other side is wrong and we are right, and as the article points out, that can lead into cynicism and may potentially prevent you from voting for a candidate that is more well-suited to lead. The other factor at play here is that a lot of people are simply ill-informed and just don’t know enough. This leads people to take everything they hear at face value, and the worst part is assuming that its all true. Personally, I’ve witnessed this type of activity among adults on Facebook and sites of the like. My mother and father will come to me bearing an article they found online, urging me to follow what it says, but logically it doesn’t make sense. You can’t autonomously accept all this information but challenge it and question its validity. This thought process translates into the voting process. Don’t immediately believe what others tell you about candidate or their campaigns. It can be a more difficult in a political context because media sources can be biased and paint opposing candidates in negative images. But the article is talking about misinformation itself. Misinformation has the potential to be very dangerous, especially if implanted in our media by an outside source. That information can be used to sway what a society believes and how it behaves, in a large way. It varies on severity based on the subject matter. According to Vox, “A fake news article about a safe congressional incumbent is going to have much different (and likely smaller) effects on attitudes and behavior than if a Supreme Court justice made a false claim about the Affordable Health Care Act.” The Vox article also mentions satire. For me, what first comes to mind is Saturday Night Live. SNL can be considered a powerful show because a lot of its source material is based on real life. So, when it comes to leaders, they accentuate certain qualities about them that viewers can perceive a certain way. Whether its one statement they made or certain mannerism, that will be conveyed to the viewers, which as you can tell, can be shaky territory.

  2. I find it irritating that we live in an era were misinformation is prevalent throughout all of society. Whether be conspiracy theories such people believing in flat earth or that Senator Sanders was cheated out of winning the primaries, or an article with a misleading headline, fake news is growing in prominence. Almost all the misinformation first appears on the internet and all misinformation become prevalent from exposure on the internet. The main websites that spread fake news are image boards (such as Reddit and 4chan), social media (such as Facebook and Twitter), and partisan news websites (such as Breitbrat News). I think that people should be more critical of any information that comes from these websites, and images boards should be considered very inaccurate and should never be used as a news source. One of the actions that society can take in order to prevent the spread of misinformation, is to avoid websites that are prevalent with misinformation.
    I think that misinformation will not be going away anytime soon. On the contrary I see a growth in fake news as the years develop. Deep fakes have been one of the worst developments in technologies in recent years. It has allowed people to use computer AI to replicate a person’s voice or face to have a person say something they haven’t said or put their face on to someone else’s face. This has allowed for the create of funny videos depicting a celebrity saying something they haven’t or putting a celebrity’ face over a world leaders face, such as putting Joe Rogan’s face put on President Trump’s head. Sadly, this technology has also been used to convince voters that certain politicians (such as Nancy Pelosi) have ill intentions or is otherwise unfit for office. Currently Deep fakes are rather crude and thus the AI have issues depicting emotions in the speech. This makes it easy to tell most deep fakes if you are paying attention to the fluctuation of the voice. As it currently stands deep fakes have yet to pair both facial and voice abilities in videos, but when they do, it will severally damage the credibility of any videos that depicts really people. Don’t know if we can entirely eradicated misinformation from the internet, but we can hopefully relegate it to the dark corners of the internet.

  3. As the 2020 Presidential Election approaches, we all need to be careful about what we see and read on the internet. The classic cliche of “don’t believe everything you read on the internet” is still, sadly, extremely prevalent. Misinformation and fake news is everywhere. The country is divided and emotions on both sides are feeding biased and misleading internet posts. This article provides some key tips to avoid misleading information online when trying to learn about the candidates.
    Emotion is one of the driving forces behind bias and misinformation. Social media is a very emotional place. Debates often include name calling and cursing, rather than arguments based on evidence and fact. I have always believed when you name call or let your emotions get the better of you, you immediately lose all credibility in a debate or argument. Emotions can drive quick decisions, such as liking or sharing a post with a provocative title. One of the tips this article provides is to avoid sharing these articles without reading them. Articles with flashy, controversial titles may be doing that on purpose to get people to share or react without analyzing the actual content. It is critically important to make sure you share news from a reliable and (preferably) unbiased source. Sadly, that may be hard to come by on the internet these days, but those sources are out there.
    The article’s final point also really caught my attention. “Be skeptical, not cynical.” People have a tendency these days to get overly angry and upset at the opposite political party. When people see something they don’t agree with, they may go straight to insulting and/or deeming it “fake.” It is perfectly fine to be skeptical about an opinion you don’t agree with. But it only worsens our country’s divide when people jump straight to hostile behavior. If something you read online seems fishy, investigate it. Find what a credible source says about this topic. It does no good to automatically assume it’s fake or insulting the person who shared the opinion. If we can learn to leave our emotions behind and fact-check information on the internet, we can stop the spread of misinformation leading up to the 2020 election.

  4. I feel like this article should be a requirement for my generation. For most of us, it is out first time voting this year and we need some guidance. We shouldn’t let our parents or different family member influence our decisions when it comes to the presidency election. Which in most cases, is what happens. This article gives us important facts and advice that we should take into consideration. One of my favorite bullet point is “Don’t share an article you haven’t read.” Many people are guilty of doing this, they read the headline and think its relevant when it really isn’t. When you see a headline that interests you, don’t just share it, ACTUALLY READ IT. Gather that information and knowledge and see if it actually is worth reposting. Another thing I found interesting was point #5, be skeptical, not cynical. I gathered that its okay to not fully understand or be curious about something that was said. Not everything that is said can be trusted or is fully credible. We should do more research and do fact checks so we can have the correct information and go off that. If we come across something fake, which happens often then we should take action and report it or leave a comment. I feel like we should all be more involved with politics and know what is going on because this can affect our future. We should gather right information and teach each other.

  5. This article was interesting to me because when it comes to elections and other political information I feel as though I am either misinformed or not informed at all. With social media, there is always information being shared and it is so easy to read that information and then pass it on without knowing if it is correct or not. On social media, there are people with platforms and with these platforms, they are able to spread false information easily and people will believe it. Another thing is that people are always going to spread information that they want people to know about, there is always a chance that the information you are reading is from a biased perspective. This makes getting and believing information very difficult because after being fed false information so long it will be difficult to discern what is real and what is fake. For false information to be spread about such an important thing like the election is very irresponsible. The false information impacts how a person will vote and that decision alone impacts the nation. The article gave a list of things that a person should and should not do when it comes to receiving information about elections. I can honestly say that I have done all the things that the article “Five Steps To Avoid Election Misinformation” says not to do. I always let my emotions or feelings toward certain information lead to my actions or future beliefs. The article’s guidelines are very important tips to follow especially when you are young and just entering the voting arena. Having these tips at such a young age will better prepare future generations for voting.

  6. This article caught my attention because politics have become a very polarizing topic of conversation over the last few years, and the least that people can and should do is to just stay a little informed of what is happening in their world. The first step mentioned in the article: “Keep an eye on your emotions” talks about keeping our emotions intact because it allows us to get on the defensive and not really settle down and collect ourselves when dealing with facts vs. feelings. Just like the article says, “Be aware of your emotions — particularly when you’re reacting to a piece of unknown origin or one that isn’t backed up by credible evidence.” Second step is: “Don’t “like” or share an article you haven’t read.” It is important to share information that you are able to back up. This very much relates to the title of the article and is a pivotal point because not only are you sharing information you have no idea is credible, but you are also owning what that article is communicating. It is important to read first, then share information on a said topic. Third step: “Learn to spot misinformation patterns” This is a dangerous too because consuming misinformation and favoring once side has become a big thing in today’s society. Always look for proof when researching on your own. Fourth step: “Don’t fall for deepfakes or cheapfakes.” Anybody could get away with anything when anyone is spreading misinformation. Our biggest problem is that we “let” people get away with it and not hold anyone accountable. In the topic of election season, spreading misinformation such as video MUST and SHOULD be verified and authentic before making up your mind. Don’t let emotion and bias get in the way. Last Step: “Be skeptical, not cynical.” I like this step because we should have no sense of confusion and cynicism when in the topic of trust and believing people. Just like this article explained, people are often very manipulated and that is very dangerous to our society. We should go the extra mile and push the envelope and research on our own what is going on in our world and come up with conclusions on our own. We should not be a victim of manipulation of misinformation. Especially during a time of America’s most important day in 4 years, misinformation can divide everyone involved.

  7. In an election year this was a great time to be written. There are so many different people on various social media platforms advocating for different candidates. Emotions can play a big part of how many people vote and see a candidate, The candidate may do something that a voter doesn’t agree with or makes them mad and then the voter has lost all support for them. This could end up going in 2 options, voting for the rival that you don’t want, or not voting at all. The biggest thing I took from this however is always read information before sharing or liking it. The title may look good and enticing to share, but the article itself could be filled with lies. These lies could make or break an election as your friends and family may see it and believe it and then shift their support to the other candidate. The main thing you have to do is use your head and do your research. You cannot act in blind faith because people will lie to get their favorite candidate elected. So don’t disbelieve everything that gets posted, just be weary of it and read and do research before sharing it.

  8. I really find this article very important because I feel like a lot of us don’t do enough research including me. I feel like we always could look for reputable sources and make our judgment unbiased. I think that the biggest thing about this article is about being skeptical which I think is great. I try to be skeptical about everything, even the religion I follow. Not falling for deepfakes or cheapfakes is a very hard thing to do. Facts & opinions are more blurred than ever before. FastCompany magazine did an interview with Renee DiResta who works at Stanford’s internet observatory. DiResta does a lot of research on misinformation. DiResta stated,” I think that we’ve actually gotten better and better at uncovering influence operations by state actors. The problem is the adversaries are also getting better and better. [They’re] not as sloppy as they used to be. It’s actually getting harder and harder to find and attribute these operations” (Sullivan). I believe that DiResta is completely right that we are better at finding what’s fake and not but the people putting out the fake content are getting better at faking it. It is really important to be skeptical of everything we see. “On Thursday, NYT reported (and CNN confirmed) that House lawmakers were warned by an intel official that Russia was taking steps to interfere in the 2020 election and get Trump re-elected. If the Russians follow a similar playbook from 2016, that effort will include exploiting divisions and spreading misinformation on tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter”(Darcy). It is why we should be more careful. We as voters are just not being bombarded with fake news by other Americans but people from other countries. Furthermore, I like that the article talks about keeping emotions in check. I think that is really important because emotions can cloud our judgment. In another FastCompany article by Amy Mornin talks about emotions that can cloud your judgment. Two emotions that really jumped at me.

    1. We Grow Comfortable with familiarity
    2. Place a lot of faith in other people’s abilities to perceive risk accurately

    I believe these two are very important to keep in mind when thinking about emotions that can affect our judgment.

  9. This article works in concert with two others to which I posted my replies. The first was a very anti-Facebook screed, in which I focused primarily on the subject of the article, itself, which was Facebook’s “new” customer protections, wherein users could see to whom their information is sent, and protect their information from unapproved sharing. The second was with regard to the culture of anti-intellectualism that has spread through our country like aggressive cancer – preying upon those overly cynical, undereducated, willfully ignorant, or incidentally internet-ignorant enough that they cannot tell the difference.
    As I read the Mueller Report, I found it as equally fascinating as it was disturbing in how easily the Russian disinformation agents were able to proliferate so much false and damaging information, using the social media algorithms. Of course, as Mark Zuckerberg (he of the zero accountability) would quickly point out, the algorithms are simply computer coding that maps out and recommends things (stories, people, etc.) based on the individual user’s own logged preferences. That is, it uses what the users click on and consume to determine what else might interest them.
    As the 2016 election approached, this effort increased, to the point where there were, litereally, hundreds of thousands of accounts that had shared millions of “stories” that were not only false, but were found to have been created by the Russian agents. There were dozens of indictments, charges, and convictions in the fallout of this part of the Special Counsel’s investigation.
    The current administration, who (regardless of their cooperation or lack thereof) benefitted greatly from this interference, and those that support it (namely the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate) have chosen to ignore the warnings of our intelligence committees, organizations, and agents, and have decided not to take the extra steps to safeguard the 2020 election from similar interference campaigns.
    This is why this article, and the subject therein, is so important. The media, which takes deserved flack from both sides of the political aisle (the right accuses them of anti-conservative bias, and the left accuses them of complicity in the actions by not properly contextualizing false and misleading statements generated by (primarily) this president and his enablers.
    As a citizen, and as a voter, it is incumbent on each of us to ensure that we are as well informed as possible. This means that it is important to not only rely on credible news sources and reporters, and fact checkers, but also to try to avoid falling into the bubble trap. What I mean by that is that it is very easy – especially on social media – to find oneself isolated within a “bubble” that contains only similar thoughts, ideas, and opinions. This can manifest itself into similar (but not necessarily the same) as what happened with the Russian disinformation campaign.
    One of the more famous Twitter mass-Tweeters is Seth Abramson, who (in addition to being a graduate of Harvard Law School) is an assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire. He is mostly known (on Twitter) as a highly educated fellow who publishes incredibly long tweet threads that seem to connect the dots between various conspiracies involving the Trump administration. While his threads may be rooted in facts, his conclusions often come under criticism from bona fide reporters, sources close to the information, and historians for their dubious or weak connections.
    The point is that by choosing news sources responsibly, one can kind of organically weed out the noise. There are websites like Media Matters and Politifact that will monitor statements made by people, reporters, and publications. Snopes has made their name by debunking the types of viral misinformation that proliferates in emails, and on social media.
    2018 was the last “most important election ever”, but 2020 may very well overtake that by leaps and bounds. We have seen a steady erosion of our democratic norms during this presidency, and we have seen the party to whom the president belongs repeatedly show that they will remain complicit in these behaviors, so long as they benefit.
    But more than simply making the decision to be more informed for an election, it’s the establishment of this behavior that will prove useful as we continue past the election. The term “Fake News” has been ironically applied to legitimate news stories about malfeasance in politics, but it literally applies to much of the “information” that bounces around between people on social media. As the article points out, these are largely designed to align with the views and emotions of those to whom they are sent, making them more plausible and believable.
    Being informed and knowledgeable has always been important, but in an era where so much disinformation is so prevalent, it takes a little extra effort to ensure that the information you’re consuming is accurate.
    It is worth it.

  10. Even though I am not able to vote in the upcoming elections, I think this article is very useful in overall life. Now that the elections of 2020 are coming up, it is extremely important to know your sources and really understand what you read. I do believe that the average voter in the United States is somewhat misinformed, hence the last election. In the last election, the partisan division seemed to be extremely wide, and both parties were acting very hostile towards each other. I don’t see this election being any different, as the country is in a huge turning point due to the pandemic. Both parties and their supporters will be doing everything in their power to push their agenda and grab the power of this country, whose future seems a bit uncertain, to say the least. It is important to take the role of a voter to really learn about the candidates and do your research on the election. This is the only chance to make a change in the election, and if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the result. This election will be one of the most important ones in our lifetime, due to the pandemic, and this will determine the direction the country will be headed in the future. It will also have large effects all around the world, so the whole globe hopes that you will make the right decision as a democracy.
    It is important to remember that the old rule of being skeptical of the things you see on the internet, and not to believe everything you see. I usually read my news from Finnish sources, which are a bit left-center biased, so I am skeptical of even the news. The bad part about Finnish Media is that all of the main outlets in Finland are leftist, so most Finnish people have this bias which they don’t even know about. I didn’t know that I had it until I was exposed to different types of news, which I first thought to be written by idiots, but after few months of thinking into it, I’ve developed some sense of what to believe and what to check.

  11. In the age of the rise of social media it seems unless you are online and have a platform, you’re missing out completely on the political and social world around you. In recent years with smartphones and computers adapting it seems that countries have evolved into being completely dependent on social media networking and digital platforms for all important communication and all information that is trying to be spread to mass groups of the population. One of the biggest points to talk about on social media platforms and what seems to be taking up most of everyone’s feeds in the coming months of the election is first coronavirus, and then politics. Politics which used to be most controversial at the dinner table now take a main platform on social media. A big problem with this issue that people are missing out on however is the problem of bias sources that spread mass miss information. This is very harmful to having a fair and clear campaign because citizens see untrue information and give their vote to someone, or don’t vote for a certain candidate because of things that are not true and that are very harmful to a campaign. So here is the point of the entire article I just read: how to avoid getting duped by false information on the internet. The first step and the arguably most important step of this entire process is to not let your emotions or pre bias get the best of you. This rule is very important because it goes hand in hand with the second rule which is never post anything you haven’t completely read. This is an important rule because posting things you haven’t looked through completely may lead people that believe your political judgment to follow what you post and repost it without you even knowing the depth of what you reposted. Another important rule that people really need to watch out for is the most dangerous of them all: photoshop for fabrication. Nowadays it is so simple to tack a picture onto an article, photoshop the photo to fit what you want the article to say and send it off into the world to manipulate masses of people into believing what you want them to so that they think and vote the same way as you. The last rule that caught my attention was to be skeptical, not cynical and to be able to differentiate between the two. I feel that during a time of having to sift through any information you receive on social media platforms it becomes hard to not just become completely cynical about it all. It is important to understand that no matter what the information is about whether it’s politics or gossip about the Kardashians, people are always going to add incorrect information because that’s just how people are. In a country where we have a democracy and the right to vote, it’s important to use that right and make sure you’re voting for the right person for the right reason.

  12. The article, “Five Steps to avoid election misinformation” by News Literacy Project makes interesting points regarding the upcoming 2020 election. Political scientists have stated the 2020 election will be one of the most consequential elections of our time due to the polarization of American politics and possible Supreme Court vacancies. News literacy project begins by explaining of the importance of citizens being informed with accurate information, “A democracy thrives when its citizens are informed and can wither when they are misled and deceived — especially in an election year, when political messaging appears nonstop in our social-media feeds and foreign agents amp up their campaigns to divide and polarize us”. Just last week, a Republican-Led review found that the intelligence community was correct in finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Foregin countries such as Russia will continue with interference in the 2020 election because they know they will never be held accountable for actions. The first piece of advice from the News Literacy Project is to keep an eye on your emotions, “They try to trigger strong emotional reactions, such as fear, outrage, and hope, to override our rational defenses”. While reading an article or a headline, the reader should know if that source of information is accurate. For example, a person should know the difference between an article from NBC news and an RT news. It is necessary for citizens to be aware of this misinformation trying to mislead them.

    News Literacy Project continues its advice by stating to learn to spot misinformation patterns, “Elections inspire all kinds of viral rumors, hoaxes, and misleading memes, and many of them tend to focus on a few overarching themes. Be particularly wary of posts that seem to discourage voting — describing long lines at polling places or broken voting machines. Accusations of voter fraud, a known Russian disinformation tactic, seek to cast doubt on the electoral process and undermine the very idea of democracy”. The main goal of these foreign agents is to persuade voters to not vote or vote for the candidate of their choice. The disinformation has already begun in the 2020 election as there have been thousands of memes of Joe Biden in videos where his words are edited in a way that make him look awful. The Trump campaign will continue to capitalize on memes of Joe Biden because voters, especially younger voters can relate to these images. Overall, I believe there will be a significant amount of misinformation during the 2020 election, but the American people have learned from 2016 and will see misinformation when it is in front of them.

  13. The amount of misinformation about politics in media of all kinds is alarming. In scrolling through apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter, I find it really difficult to trust anything that I am reading or hearing, whether or not I agree with it. There are constant debates between extremely liberal or conservative individuals that show up on my feed of any one of these platforms and only bring up very specific information to strengthen their side only without addressing any points. While this does ultimately lead to me being informed as it prompts me to attempt to fact check what is being said, I know that a lot of people, particularly those with the very willful and stubborn mindsets of those making the biased posts, will not do the same. However, in this article I particularly like the 5th step that they listed which is to be skeptical but no cynical. I will admit that I have felt a bit cynical about nearly every political post I see on the internet, but this article tells that this type of mindset does not help with the issue. It is important to understand that there are sources that are credible and trustworthy and that there are things that we can do when we see people spreading information that is untrue. Another part of this article that I found important was to not let emotions overpower rationality. In the past, there have been times where I have read an article that angers me or upsets me which makes me believe it more. However, understanding that this is a tactic that those who are trying to spread misinformation use is good to know so people can further defend themselves from believing these things. While it is unbelievably frustrating that there are so many people who want to spread false information and so many people that are ignorant enough to believe these things without checking other sources before further spreading them, there are luckily ways to keep yourself honestly informed, though it will take a bit more work and a lot less blind faith.

  14. I liked reading this article; it’s short and concise, and has just enough information for someone to make meaningful changes to how they view information. Honestly, it’s a shame that much of this even needs to be said — it should be already be imperative for people to do sufficient research, while checking sources. Regardless, it is good that this is still being said.

    I think the article is obviously aimed at a specific group — those who may not be able to discern fake / untrue internet articles and ads from real ones. No offense, but I think this group mainly includes very young and very old. There’s a reason this issue is so prominent on a site such as facebook — one of the biggest demographics of facebook users is older / elderly people. These people are obviously more susceptible to misinformation. This is exactly why the spread of misinformation is so dangerous, especially on these sites where the userbase is more likely to not verify information for themselves.

    The question here is, who is responsible? Are the users themselves responsible for verifying this information, or should the websites and posters be in the wrong? I think when considering how we’ve handled cases in this class, the people spreading the misinformation should be held accountable. Similar to the cases we’ve done where people have taken advantage of those who were unable to understand what was going on, I would treat this situation similarly.

  15. With the current political climate this article serves a really good purpose, people today are so quick to conclude their opinions when facts/evidence take some time to get. I think that with the way media is on both sides it is really hard to get the right information, so you have to base your opinions off of the way that everyone is reporting a specific event.


    This quote fits in with today’s climate so much, both sides of the political spectrum are guilty of their own biases and that hurts the people more than anything. If people can’t get information then how are they supposed to elect people for office, how are people supposed to form opinions on events when the coverage is just about how bad each side is. This doesn’t even go only for politics we see this in the entertainment business as well.

    While reading some of the comments above, Alisha A made a good point about there being a lot of bias in media, many internet icons have agendas that need to be filled.

  16. I feel like this article is extremely important especially at a time right now where the presidential election is literally just one month away. I think the best point made out of all of these is not to fall for deepfakes or cheapfakes. When it comes to media, esoecially in an era ow where social media and the internet are at an all time high, it is very easy to fall for false propaganda and things such as fake sites trying to sway your vote in an attempt to get you to start to agree with their political views. And its not just false sites and links. Nowadays you can even run into things like photoshopped images and videos. When it comes to fake news people should either watch it on tv but be cautious or do some research yourself. If you don’t see major news outlets talking about the news then it isn’t something you should believe in.
    Now that we’re in the heat of the presidential battle the best thing to do would be to pay as much attention as possible to the debates as you can. That will give you your most raw and uncut version of both sides as you get. It allows you to see how each candidate will react to the different problems and questions that are thrown their way without biased major news outlets sitting there and trying to skew you every which way. Personally I found the first debate to just be a joke between two clowns. I didn’t even bother sticking around for the whole thing because it just looked like a bitter argument between two clowns posing as presidential candidates. I worry not just for our generation but also for the generations that come after us. At this point all we can do is hope that the next line of presidential candidates that come after these can fix the problems and turmoil that we are sure to face after the outcome of this election. We’re already in the midst of pandemic caused by a deadly virus but all it seems the candidates care about is making the other one look like an absolute fool rather than address the problems in this country such as the pandemic and the race war.

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