Categories: IRL

How to stop the spread of disinformation

The truth is out there. But online, it feels like it’s harder than ever to find. Consider this sobering statistic from a recent MIT study: on Twitter, lies are 70% more likely to be retweeted than facts. Somehow, the information age became the disinformation age. Where do we go from here?

All season long on IRL, we’ve been talking about how our online reality shapes and warps our life offline. Digital disinformation obscures a lot of things. But it also makes one thing clear. Being wired together isn’t enough. We need human connections, philosophical connections and intellectual connections on top of our fiber optic cables, wifi signals and server rooms. What happens to information online — that’s on us, too.

In the season finale of IRL, recorded live in San Francisco, we navigate the strange new world of social media misinformation. The New York TimesSheera Frenkel discusses the shifting landscape of journalism, and argues for platform accountability. DisInfoMedia, Inc. founder Jestin Coler talks about why confirmation bias comes up in our feeds. And Data For Democracy Policy Lead and Mozilla Fellow Renee DiResta breaks down the hidden virality engines responsible for spreading hoaxes online. Listen up.

It’s not always easy to separate fact from fiction online. But it’s not impossible to stop the spread of information, at least from your own account. Follow these three steps to become a more informed source for the rest of your network.

Compare before you share

Your followers read what you share, so do them a solid. Make sure you know exactly who’s behind the report you’re reading. If you’re thinking about sharing the story, read as many articles as possible from reliable outlets on the ground. Verify a story’s accuracy by tracking down the original source, and make sure that what you’re sharing isn’t perpetuating a hoax. And remember, not everyone gets satire, sigh.

Check pictures using image search

It’s easy to fall for fake images. After all, they *look* like photos. Before you click share on that picture, use Google Image Search to search by file or URL.

Own your mistakes

News moves faster now than at any point in history. It’s ok to share something in error. If you do, edit or delete your post, so that disinformation is no longer in circulation.

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6 comments on “How to stop the spread of disinformation”

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  1. Freedom Luver wrote on

    This is God’s work. Thank you.


  2. Richard Ackerman wrote on

    Just want to send a big THANK YOU to Mozilla for presenting the IRL program. Special kudos to Jennifer (the host) for doing an excellent job of moderating and leading the discussions. Great topics and a great opportunity to learn more!




  3. dannye jones wrote on

    learning to navigate a median subject to manipulation


  4. John Benson wrote on

    Episode 14 – Ctrl + Alt + Facts

    That was quite a biased one-sided podcast on fake news. And you relied on Snopes and NYT for your unbiased sources?!

    You ignored the sources of huge fake news. For example:

    * ABC News’ Brian Ross CHOKES and sent the markets in a downward spiral with his false report. He was demoted because of his fake news “exclusive” report on Trump and Russia.

    * The New York Times’ Paul Krugman claimed on the day of President Trump’s historic, landslide victory that the economy would never recover.

    * CNN FALSELY reported that candidate Donald Trump and his son Donald J. Trump, Jr. had access to hacked documents from WikiLeaks.

    * TIME FALSELY reported that President Trump removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office.

    * Washington Post FALSELY reported the President’s massive sold-out rally in Pensacola, Florida was empty. Dishonest reporter showed picture of empty arena HOURS before crowd started pouring in.

    * CNN FALSELY edited a video to make it appear President Trump defiantly overfed fish during a visit with the Japanese prime minister. Japanese prime minister actually led the way with the feeding.

    *CNN FALSELY reported about Anthony Scaramucci’s meeting with a Russian, but retracted it due to a “significant breakdown in process.”

    * Newsweek FALSELY reported that Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda did not shake President Trump’s hand.

    * CNN FALSELY reported that former FBI Director James Comey would dispute President Trump’s claim that he was told he is not under investigation.

    * The New York Times FALSELY claimed on the front page that the Trump administration had hidden a climate report.

    *”RUSSIA COLLUSION!” Russian collusion with Trump is perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people. 18 months later, there is no evidence of Trump colluding with Russia.


  5. Sam Iyam wrote on

    Note that the reason for this big push out of Facebook, Twitter, Google and Youtube to combat “fake news”, from the point of view of listeners to alternative media such as,,,, Brietbart and even the Drudge Report, is actually a push to combat news and history that in most cases, really does seem to hold water, is pretty well documented, and is info the lamestream media simply will not even MENTION, unless it starts to become too popular. It would seem that what they label “Fake News,” they cannot argue against fairly, so they must resort to supressing true news and history as fake news.

    Kudos to FF for not trying to suppress suppressed news and history too; but instead, get people to look at both sides fairly.


  6. Martin Mitchell wrote on

    Fake news and fake stories are in reality contrary to a duty of care. To mislead is an element of fraud. Anyone may offer terms and conditions of business for being mislead by anyone else and those terms and conditions are accepted by the act of lying, deceiving or misleading the offeror (the offeror is person who states their terms and conditions for being mislead.) Artificial Intelligence will soon be able to data mine the information neccessary to provide evidence of who mislead who and silent talker, or another system, will be able to prove who is lying in an attempt to avoid liability. This technique will result in corrupted misleaders and deceivers being indebted to honourable people. There is no escape from the truth because we are all entering the age of AI that can read our body language in order to determine if we are telling the truth or lying in a conclusive way.


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