How not to fall victim to misinformation arrogance…

…in an age of limitless knowledge.

See that thing you’re holding in your hand to read this right now? That phone; smart phone to be exact.

It is really smart.

It’s smarter than you. Or me.

It’s smarter than scientists, and researchers, and presidents, and war veterans, and teachers and anthropologists combined.

“Pfffaaah,” you think, “and your point Mallory?”

77 percent of American adults own a smart phone and nine out of ten use the internet according to PEW Research Center’s most recent figures.

This means that more Americans than ever before have access to unlimited information wherever they go.

Let me repeat this again because it’s huge and I’m not sure you’re comprehending the weight and implications of this fact:

More Americans than EVER before have access to UNLIMITED information, WHEREVER they go.

Remember when you had to go to the library and sift through indexes to find the section of information you wanted to study or learn about? Once you found the section, you had to pick a handful of books to check out, tote them home and read. Then you had to pick tidbits to memorize, because eventually the books would need to go back to the library. Even if you happen to love a subject so much you chose to purchase books on the topic, it still wasn’t as easy as it is today to carry that information around everywhere you go. It took time and effort to educate yourself on topics.

You’d find folks to be experts in a few subject areas, and others experts in other areas –but attempting to amass a major breadth of information wasn’t ideal and communication exchange was vital to sharing this knowledge.

However, thanks to smart phones, the summation of ALL information known to man is stored online and is readily available to anyone now.

It’s as easy as: “Hey Siri, what years did Dwight Eisenhower serve as President of America?”

Siri fires back: “Let me look this up. Give me just a moment. It looks like Dwight Eisenhower served as President from January 20, 1953-January 20, 1961.”

Its great!

It really is.

But there is a major problem.

Somehow, although the access to information has become SO easy and readily available, we are finding that fewer Americans are doing any research or educating themselves.

Our country leads the world in blindly trusting what we spot online disguised as a NEWS HEADLINE simply because the person who posted the content is paying for advertising – aka to spread their information to as many people, dare I say sheeeeeple, as possible.

Yes. Yes I did say Sheeple. Because it’s my website and by golly I’m grateful for the first amendment right to speak my mind and I am frustrated with, I even get infuriated by the sheer stupidity of folks sometimes. (I am also not claiming to be news.)

It’s BAFFELING.

I see folks complaining that LEGITIMATE news sources are not legit, while sharing Bob & Sherrie’s personal website which is funded through clickbait ads and hosted on Cloudflare servers as the truth. I see a plethora of memes being shared on my Facebook ‘newsfeed’ that are completely false. (I even find it ridiculous that I must add ‘completely’ in front of false, because false information is false. Yet we live in an age of alternative facts…so I feel I must add completely & utterly false, so you understand it’s NOT REAL.)

Why are we doing this to ourselves? Why are we dumbing ourselves down to nothing when we hold the key to so much information about everything in our hands?

I saw this posted on Facebook today:

It is being shared with comments touting how Obama did not support our troops or our country because he chose to have rainbow lighting on the White House for the Fourth of July, while Trump is all American thanks to his patriotic flag lighting the White House.

But here are the facts: The top photo of the White House decorated with rainbow colors is from June 26, 2015 in honor of the Supreme Court ruling on all marriages being recognized federally. On July 4, 2016 Obama was at the White House, commemorating the holiday with the company of military heroes & their families. And no, the White House was not rainbow colored that night during the fireworks display.

It took me all of 30 seconds to pop on Google search and figure that out.

Literally folks, all I had to type in was ‘What did Obama do on July 4, 2016?’

Over 25 million results were pulled instantly.

I examined the websites for the top couple, Newsweek (pretty legit), Huffington Post (eh.. I’ll keep scrolling), US Magazine (Legit) although I spotted the next one down – a .gov (aka published & owned by the government) It was an archived link – JACKPOT! Click and boom loaded up the facts of July 4, 2016 at the White House.

I want to arm you with some tips to help educate yourself and spot out fake news. I believe that the more aware you are, the better we can come together and discuss and make changes. It’s awfully hard to get two opposing viewpoints on the same page, especially when one’s opinions aren’t rooted in fact. The more aware you are, the more aware your friends will be too. Because once you stop sharing fake news and misinformation, you’ll stop misinforming the circle of friends who see your content. And the less of your friends being misinformed, means the circle of misinformation shrinks and shrinks. YAY!!

Education and research are important folks. We don’t study research techniques in school to forget completely to tactfully do our own research on topics in the real world; to form our own opinions rather than living through the opinion of other keyboard warriors.

So without further ado, here is my list of suggestions to ensure the information you are absorbing is LEGIT:

  1. Look to see if reputable news sources are also reporting the story. (Is BBC, NPR or the Associated Press talking about it? If yes, chances are it’s legit. If not, chances are it is not real.)
    1. I see several FAKE news sites including lines like “and NO MAINSTREAM MEDIA will cover this.” That right there is a ‘UGE indication that it is not real. If it were, publicly funded publications would be discussing it (NPR), investigative journalists would be researching it, there would be quotes, there would be references, there would be more than one news article discussing it. Especially if it’s major/noteworthy information.
  2. Check the domain names; and be on the lookout for odd names.
    1. co is a fake news source, so is freedomdaily.com as well as a LONG list of hundreds more. Be diligent. Check the source of the information. I’ll also drop a knowledge bomb for you to help with this: every domain (i.e. lifeofmallory.com, nike.com, npr.com etc.) must be registered in an online database, that ANYONE can access and look to see who is the registered owner of the domain. You can even see where they host their content.
      1. Why does that matter you might be asking? Well for example, if you go to this database: whois.icann.org and look up CNN.com, you’ll find that it is owned by Turner Broadcasting System, Inc, they have a legit email that they can be reached/contacted at, phone number, and you can see they use their own server to protect their content from malicious activity aka hackers. But if you look up freedomdaily.com, you’ll note it’s a private individual who has paid $9 for privacy to restrict their information from being visible. Legit news sources to not limit who can contact them with a news story. The phone number doesn’t lead to an office line where I can contact a reporter, or leave a news story tip. Also, you’d note that they use Cloudflare Nameservers, meaning they do not keep their website or its content themselves.
    2. Check the “About Us” tab on the website or look up the website on Snopes.com for additional information about the source.
      1. A quick look at CNN’s About Us section tells us:
        1. AKA they are telling us they are legit. We know how many reporters they staff, I can click and read profiles on the execs of CNN, I can view their FAQs page, or leave comments.
      2. While Freedom Daily’s: 
        1. First things first, did anyone else notice click bait right at the top of the page? There were 3 more ads higher up that I didn’t include, but feel free to verify for yourself here. Secondly, to the right of their name it reads “Conservative News HQ” so right there I know it is slanted. I continue to the About Us section where they have no problem acknowledging themselves as “discussing meaningful conservative American and world news…” alert alert – sound the fake news alarms – DISCUSSING is a dangerous word for news. There is no discussion of fact. News sources exist to educate the publics on facts & allow us to generate our own conversation. The job of news isn’t to hold a discussion forum; just to inform. Beware of any sites that posts are submitted by users as well, and not journalists. Member submitted news means anyone can submit anything they wish & if Bob & Sherrie who own the site don’t check the validity before posting it – you’re being fed someone’s opinions and not fact.
      3. Watch out for common news websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources
      4. Poor web design and USE OF ALL CAPS is a good indicator that the information you’re reading is fake & needs to be verified.
      5. And maybe most importantly: If the story makes you really angry it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry in order to generate shares and advertising revenue.
        1. Yes, this is a very real thing. Seriously friends, if it pisses you off – GOOGLE it. Look to see if and where else you can find information about it. There is so much misinformation out there. Don’t fall victim to it simply because you didn’t use your brain.

If you have any questions or would like help verifying any news ‘stories’ that you’ve seen or heard of, please reach out. I would love to help disseminate truth and help educate others. I’ve also included a cool chart that breaks down Media Source Bias and this cool quiz to test if you can spot fake news!

 

Xoxo – Mallory

 

 

4 Replies to “How not to fall victim to misinformation arrogance…”

  1. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he just bought me lunch since I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

  2. There are a handful of interesting points soon enough in this posting but I do not know if I see every one of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Very good article , thanks and now we want more! Put into FeedBurner too

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    1. madebymallory says: Reply

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