Sharing it? triplecheck it, first. – triplecheck

Sharing it? triplecheck it, first.

We know that disinformation is everywhere on the internet. Before you share on social media, try these three simple checks.

We know that disinformation is everywhere on the internet. We see it every day and sometimes, if we aren’t careful, share it with our friends and family. Facebook and Twitter have taken some small steps to address the issue, but little has been done to expose vast networks of bots and troll accounts that are established to intentionally peddle false narratives or sow division.

At triplecheck, our mission is to help stop the spread of malicious content and give people the tools they need to share factual and trustworthy information.  

We all want to read and share content that’s informative, accurate or even provocative. We are not here to tell you what to think. But with so many bad sources and bad actors on social media, it’s important to understand how to recognize and avoid content that’s designed to make us feel good in the short-term while damaging discourse in the long-term.

Before you share content on social media, try these three simple checks to stop the spread of disinformation in its tracks.

Do I know and trust the original source of this information?

We know that our family and friends wouldn’t intentionally share malicious content, but what about the person who originally wrote the article or post? Are they reputable, and do they have a public presence? Or is the source basically anonymous? 

Anybody can create a social media account or a blog, and online trolls who peddle disinformation know how to produce content that looks authentic at first glance. A quick check on the original source can often make a huge difference. If you don’t know and trust the original source, even if the information seems true, you can avoid sharing until it’s confirmed by someone you trust–ideally someone with a public profile with relevant credentials. 

Am I sure this post tells the whole story?

Have you ever played a game of telephone? By the time a message is passed around the circle, whispered from one person to the next, it changes completely. 

Disinformation can work in a similar way. A reputable outlet will post a story. A blogger will link to that story in a post, but leave out critical context. An account on Twitter finds the blog post and tweets the headline, which is then shared by thousands. Another account takes the headline and turns it into a meme. At each step, the truth at the heart of the story gets buried by spin. 

Sometimes, content that seems too good to be true really is. Before you share something, ask yourself, “Does this tell the full story?” Does the headline accurately reflect the entire article or post? Do links to original reporting in the article direct you to a reputable source? Do they accurately reflect what that source is saying? If you are sharing a meme or a joke, are you sure the heart of the content is truthful? If not, take a deeper dive to learn more before clicking the ‘share’ button.

Was this post written to provoke or divide?

When it comes to content that provokes, political correctness does not need to be the goal. Posting stories and memes that are funny or express controversial points of view is part of a healthy (and fun) online dialogue.

But when bots and fake accounts stir up divisiveness intentionally, it becomes impossible to talk about anything. Ignoring and refusing to share content designed for the sole purpose of stirring up conflict can help to create space for more frank dialogue.

We recommend drawing a line between content that’s meant to provoke and content that’s meant to divide. Provocative content calls attention to an idea that challenges others with an opposing view. Divisive content is accusatory and assumes ill-intent of those who disagree. 

Content that’s meant to divide us is harmful, and avoiding it will help you avoid spreading lies and rumors as well. A lot of posts feed on widely held political frustrations and use them to push false information. If a post starts with a personal attack, that’s a good sign that the information that follows may be rooted in biases and not in fact.

The Bottom Line

Nobody’s perfect. We all know the feeling of sharing something and realizing the information we shared wasn’t entirely accurate, and we all want to avoid it. That’s why smart news consumers use our checklist to filter out content that poisons our online discourse. By taking a quick moment to triplecheck before you hit the share button, you can help keep discourse civil and focused on the facts (and avoid getting one of our triplecheck alerts, too!).