War in the Age of Disinformation
There is a war.
We never imagined that we would start a text published on the company website with such words. Russia has invaded Ukraine and the fight is on right behind our borders. But not only - the war is being waged also in the sphere of information and public debate. Attempts to create information chaos, to divide us and to disorganize our efforts occur daily.
We have developed a guide on how to verify information on Social Media and on sites reporting on the war and the refugee situation in our country.
How do you recognize fake news?
Fake news is nothing new - disinformation is the inseparable sister of propaganda and is used to create chaos, divide societies and manipulate the behavior of the masses. With the popularization of the Internet, "fake news" has reached a whole new level. It is a matter of mass distribution, the ease of impersonating reliable sources and the possibility of easily reaching an undemanding audience, who often, even without a shadow of ill will, will be inclined to reproduce and amplify them.
This is the origin of the stories circulating on the Internet, in which people claiming to be a brother-in-law/neighbour/good friend or a colleague report various slanderous antics of refugees or scandalous (yet untrue) stories about discrimination against fellow countrymen. In 99% cases, when trying to dig deeper, it turns out that the story is false and the friend does not exist.
Applying a very simple information filter allows 90% to sift the nonsense from the facts.
1. check the source
Investigate who is the author of the information - is it an unknown website that looks like a news site, but was set up weeks/months ago and only contains information in a similar vein? Or is it a social media account created yesterday? Such sources are fundamentally suspect.
2. verify the information
It's often a matter of two clicks or one phone call. If this actually happened, it is more than likely that more media outlets covered it - so check to see if this information appeared in other sources. If not, something is not right. If someone cites a friend/colleague/co-worker... ask for their contact information and check for yourself.
Of course, the latter applies primarily to "local" fake news - in the case of news from other regions, it is worth, for example, looking at the websites / profiles of organizations that deal with the verification of fake news - e.g. https://Demagog.org.pl. In many cases, you will find detailed analyses of the most popular fake news stories.
3. think about the agenda
Disinformation usually has well-defined goals - in the case of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it's about creating chaos and resentment towards Ukrainians, which will translate into reduced support for refugees and the country as a whole. These clearly defined goals make it possible to identify it effectively - it's enough to consider what purpose the given information has and what effect it is supposed to have. If we see that someone is trying to force us to change our point of view based on emotions and unverifiable information - let's be skeptical and cautious.
4. trust your intuition
We do not urge you to make all of your life decisions based on your intuition, But it is a natural tool - so if while reading or listening to some information we subconsciously feel that something is wrong with it... let's trust our own judgment and verify it or refrain from passing it on (on Facebook or Twitter).
5. report fake news
Just identifying disinformation is not enough - if we know that some information shared is nonsense, and nonsense distributed for specific political purposes, we should not hesitate to act. The minimum is to signal it to the author or the person who just shared it (editorial office, friend on FB). If that doesn't help, let's report it as disinformation (most social networks offer this option).
The above tips are the basics and the first steps on the road to verifying fake news. If you feel like digging deeper into the topic, we absolutely recommend a guide on this subject published by the Panoptykon Foundation and Video prepared by Niebezpiecznik.pl.