Platforms that promote engagement have already seen a lot of negative information about Russia’s invasion.
On TikTok, a 2016 videoThis training exercise was repurposed in order to create the false impression Russian soldiers were parachuting onto Ukraine. The video was viewed millions times. A false translation of a statement, which circulated widely via Twitter and was shared by journalists, claimed that fighting near Chernobyl has disturbed a nuclear waste facility (the original statement). warnedThat is why fightingmay Do not disturb nuclear waste
As people interact with the flood of news and viral posts about terrible events, harmful propaganda and misinformation are often amplified. This guide is designed for those who want not to help bad actors.
We’ve published some of this advice before—during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, and again before the US election later that year. This information has been updated to reflect specific news from Ukraine.
Your attention matters …
It is important to realize that online activities can make a difference. “People often think that because they’re not influencers, they’re not politicians, they’re not journalists, that what they do [online] doesn’t matter,” Whitney Phillips, an assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University, told me in 2020. It does matter. Even if you only have a few close friends or family, sharing dubious information can result in its spread.
… and so do your angry quote tweets and duets.
When an urgent news story is in progress, people with good intentions may tweet, share, and duet with a post to social media to condemn or challenge it. Twitter and Facebook have established new rules to counter misinformation. They also offer moderation techniques and fact-checking provisions. However, misinformation can be manipulated. At all risks amplifying the content you’re trying to minimize, because it signals to the platform that you find it interesting. If you don’t want to engage with a post that you believe is incorrect, you can flag it for review by your platform.
Mike Caulfield, a digital literacy expert, developed a method for evaluating online information that he calls SIFT: “Stop, Investigate the source, Find better coverage, and Trace claims, quotes, and media to the original context.” When it comes to news about Ukraine, he says, the emphasis should be on “Stop”—that is, pause before you react to or share what you’re seeing.
“There’s just a human impulse to be the first person in your group to share the story and get known as the person who reported this thing,” he says. While this is a daily danger for journalists it also applies to all people, especially in times of information overload.
Shireen Mitchell, a disinformation researcher and digital analyst, says that if you’re consuming news about Ukraine and want to do something to help, “what you should be doing is following people from Ukraine who are telling their stories about what’s happening to them.”