Disinformation 💁‍♀️

  • by Claire Wardle

Too often, we share posts on social media without thinking. We’re standing in line at a coffee shop or scrolling mindlessly during our morning commute. The minute we see something that resonates – it might make us laugh, angry or even smug – we click on the ‘share’ or retweet button, and carry on scrolling. It’s often a split second decision. It feels like it carries little weight. But those split second decisions can have repercussions.

When smartphones first appeared, we seized the opportunity to have these amazing gadgets in our pockets. We could interact with friends in real-time, play games, read the news and scroll through fun, engaging content. What we didn’t realize, as a society, was that these little gadgets required a new level of responsibility. Overnight, everyone had become a publisher.

Before a journalist is allowed to publish, they have to go on training sessions to learn about media law and ethics. Their work is reviewed by editors before it goes out. If they publish something incorrect, they have to issue a correction.

For everyone with a social media account, the ability to post thoughts, images or videos, or to share or retweet someone else’s has provided hundreds of millions of people with the same power as journalists; the power to amplify certain information.

But we didn’t offer any training. As a society, we didn’t create an environment by which sharing untrustworthy information carried a social stigma. So, when we’re standing in that line for coffee, there’s no repercussions to us sharing without checking.

Disinformation agents are capitalizing on this fact. We must be more mindful.