You can’t help but be aware that not everything you read on the internet or via social media is true. Shocking, I know. We are living in a time when there are people and organizations actively putting our false information. The cynics among you will say that marketers have been doing that for years and there is some truth in that. But this is different.
I think when we read product ads or other materials labeled as advertising or advertorial or paid sponsorship, a little “be wary” alarm goes off. I recognize, having been fooled myself on more than one occasion, that not all of those paid for materials are immediately obvious as ads, but most are. If you look closely enough, even the social media usual suspects make it fairly clear when content is actually advertising. Not so propaganda.
You might be familiar with the studies showing that a huge percentage of people don’t actually read the things they like or repost. There are problems with that, the biggest of which is that you’ve added social proof to something that might actually be a complete lie. I had a friend the other day who posted a story that had a headline that was different from what the article actually said (thanks, editor who wrote the headline). I asked her in a comment if she had actually read the article, which was taken down shortly thereafter since it didn’t exactly match her world view.
It’s going to get worse over the next 60 days as we get to an election. Just as in 2016, there are disinformation campaigns being waged. I don’t mean the obvious ones you see on TV which are paid for by special interest groups. The stories have been coming for months and today’s headline that “Russians Again Targeting Americans With Disinformation, Facebook and Twitter Say” is not going to stop anyone because these bad actors got caught.
What can you do? Check everything you read against multiple sources. Be skeptical. Don’t believe me or anyone else until you find proof of what you’re reading with your own eyes. Don’t even believe your eyes when it’s video since it’s way to easy to fake videos these days. Go to legitimate fact-checkers – Snopes, PolitiFact, and others.
I’m not being political here (we don’t do that in this space). I’m begging you to make up your own mind based on as much accurate information as you can find. Don’t repost stuff you haven’t read and checked out. Don’t believe what others post until you do. Not even from me, OK?