Nov 3, 2020 - Technology

How to avoid Election Day misinformation

Donald Trump and Joe Biden
Photos: Kamil Krzaczynski/Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Today will be hard enough for many of us to get through without also falling for misinformation that may enrage, depress and deceive. Here are a few tips from team Axios and experts designed to relieve at least a little of the Election Day stress.

Why it matters: The intentional spread of false information aims not just to mislead, but also to keep voters from the polls and to undermine public faith in institutions.

The big picture: The antidote to misinformation is a mix of media literacy and healthy skepticism.

Here are a few tips from me:

  • Check the source before you tweet — even if your friend tweeted it.
  • Try to read the article before hitting retweet (something Twitter has been encouraging more broadly).
  • Step away from the computer when you start to feel overwhelmed. Take a breath, a bath or a walk, or build a Lego set —whatever helps you clear your head.

Laura Rosenberger, director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, agreed with those, adding:

  • Be patient.
  • Identify credible sources in advance (like your secretary of state, or state/local election officials, and the CISA rumor control website).
  • Use in-platform resources to look for credible info and report suspicious materials.
  • Be very cautious about reports of fraud or hacks or interference — the goal of bad actors is to make us lose faith in the process, and these claims could be part of that. Wait for verified information.

Snopes, which has been debunking internet myths for years, encourages people to check its existing (and still-being-updated) list of election misinformation.

  • "First: Remember that many of the rumors spreading on Election Day are likely to be things we've covered before — gaffes, mischaracterizations, cheap fakes, pics stripped of context, and more," Snopes said in a tweet.

Go deeper: BuzzFeed’s Jane Lytvynenko has some more specific tips and tools for evaluating manipulated media and other misinformation yourself in this Twitter thread.

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