Facebook removes accounts for misinformation about covid-19 0:37
(CNN) – Your cousin knows for a fact that COVID-19 vaccines have microchips that control the mind. “Stop the steal” conspiracy theories may have flooded your social media during and after the 2020 US presidential election. Your friend shares an article on why 5G technology will harm everyone’s health.
“We even see misinformation on trivial matters,” says Carl T. Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington, in an email. Bergstrom is one of the teachers in a course teaching students to assess the flood of information in their lives. “Every year, a photograph of an adorable furry chick goes viral as an image of a ‘baby crow.’ (Freshly hatched crows are blind, have no feathers, and look nothing like this).”
An inaccurate wildlife story can have limited repercussions, but misinformation about serious issues such as elections or the pandemic can be “profoundly damaging”, affecting people’s motivations, beliefs and decision-making regarding their health, politics, the environment and more, said Bergstrom, co-author of “Calling Bullsh * t: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World.”
“Sharing misinformation and misinformation about health can cause people to die,” adds Bergstrom. But “what if I share misinformation about something like the withdrawal from Afghanistan? It’s not like sharing misinformation about vaccines, in the sense that my friends and family who read it are not at all involved in decision-making about vaccination. US foreign policy. “
However, if we are inundated with false information about the Afghanistan withdrawal and other issues, we will not collectively be able to make the wise decisions we need to prosper as a society, Bergstrom said.
“Second, disinformation often serves or even fuels political polarization,” he added. “If we convince ourselves that half of our compatriots are hopelessly stupid, not to say evil, how does that affect our faith in the democratic process? I think it seriously undermines this faith, and that is a serious threat to our society.”
The problem is compounded when family and friends share wrong information, because we tend to trust that what they say is true without verifying it. Confronting loved ones about the falsity of their posts isn’t easy, but if you’re ready to speak up, here are some tips on how to do it.
Understand the intentions
Remember that people who share wrong information may have good intentions.
Some bogus messages related to the pandemic can fall into this category, Bergstrom said. “When we hear things about threats like this, where there is a lot of uncertainty, it is very natural to try to get information and then share it with the people we care about to keep everyone safe.”
Identifying false claims can be difficult as, according to Bergstrom, misinformation often contains elements of both truth and falsehood.
That content, which people can also share to confirm their worldview, is sometimes “seen as just as credible as a trusted source,” said Sam Vaghar, executive director of the Millennium Campus Network, a global network of students. and alumni who help young people to face the challenges of humanity. Vaghar is also part of the team behind the Instagram profile I’m Making a Difference, which works with social media influencers to provide young adults with verified information about the pandemic. And sometimes disinformation blogs are designed to look like news websites.
Why does fake news circulate so easily? 1:05
How to deal with the situation?
If someone is sharing high-risk misinformation, “it’s very tempting to want to shake them by the shoulders,” says Joshua Coleman, a private practice psychologist in Oakland, California, and a senior member of the Council for Contemporary Families, a nonprofit organization that provides modern research on American families. But “you have to resist that temptation and keep communication in a more empathetic place.”
Being prepared with information from sources such as the credible media, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, or state Health Departments can help ensure that your argument is more fact-based or factual. in science than in emotional or opinion, Vaghar said.
Coleman advised avoiding a “hard start,” a phrase used by John Gottman, a marriage and divorce researcher and emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Washington.
“[Gottman] It says conversations end the same way they begin, “Coleman said.” If you start a conversation with hostility, anger, contempt, or criticism, it will probably end that way. “
But the more you communicate respectfully, he added, “the more likely people are to lower their defenses and take an interest in what we have to say.”
Find ways to continually affirm that you are not saying that the person is dumb, and that if the stakes weren’t so important, you’d be fine just to disagree or you wouldn’t say anything, Coleman suggested. Telling your loved ones that you only bring it up because you really care about them can communicate that you are speaking from a mindset of love and concern.
You also have to take into account how your relationship with that person has been, he suggested. Coleman said that you can get into strong arguments with certain friends, “but at the bottom is friendship, and we know that we are engaging in a semi-angry way because we both care a lot about what we are talking about. We also know that once we finish the conversation , there is no harm, there is no fault, whereas other people might experience that level of intensity or frustration in a much more hurtful way, and that would close the conversation. “
If you suspect that the person you’re dealing with is going to react defensively, you can say, “I know a lot of people think that’s true, and I know there’s a lot out there about that, so I can understand how a smart person could come to the conclusion that this is true. I don’t know how much you have read or researched, and the truth is that I have spent a lot of time reading or researching on this topic. Do you mind if I share what I am learning with you? ” Coleman suggested.
In this way, “it’s not like you’re hitting them over the head” with your opinion, Coleman said.
For people who have access to credible information, but share misleading stories that they like, “rather than responding with a list of facts, it may be more helpful to address the underlying beliefs or perspectives that make this information attractive. in the first place, “Bergstrom said.
“If someone is afraid to get a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration because they believe that government agencies can never be trusted, listing statistics on vaccine safety will not take you very long. far”.
Two things that might help are focusing on supporting evidence outside of the US regulatory system and sharing the perspectives of others who share the person’s beliefs about government, but who continue to advocate for COVID-19 vaccination. .
These approaches do not guarantee that you will be persuasive, as people can cling to their beliefs, but they are a good way to start.
The truth about texting, and the public vs. private confrontation
There are proper ways to have these conversations, and texting isn’t one of them, Coleman says. Since written communication lacks inflection, speak on the phone so the person can hear any genuine intent in your voice.
If you’re concerned about tackling a misleading social media post with a public comment or private message, it can help to do both.
With a public comment, you could educate anyone “vulnerable to misinformation being caused by the person,” Coleman said. But there is a possibility that people who post think that you are humiliating them in front of their peers.
To avoid this, also send a private message saying that you hope they don’t mind if you share your thoughts publicly, given the importance.
And what should you do if you confront someone about misinformation and acknowledge its falsehood, but don’t erase the message?
Unfortunately, that person may not care or may leave the post in reaction to criticism, Coleman says.
Coleman doubts that a stranger will respond to a follow-up conversation. But if you know him, reiterate why you think the person should not leave the post in the air, it may be worth another try. And sharing any personal interest you have in this, such as mentioning your experience of being sick with covid-19 to someone who shares misinformation related to the pandemic “can make it more compelling,” he added.
If the person you face is receptive to facts and your thoughts, that could foster a humanitarian perspective, in the sense that we have shared purposes, sacrifices and destinies, Coleman said.