How we can fight misinformation

Misinformation Brigade

A month after the 2020 presidential election, a national poll by Quinnipiac University found that 34 percent of registered voters thought Joe Biden's win was not legitimate. A month later, after thousands of his followers stormed the Capitol, Trump was deplatformed by all major social networks leading to a 73 percent decline in online misinformation about election fraud.

If we've learned one thing from the Capitol riot, it's that we can no longer ignore the dangers of misinformation and how it is spread. That's why we need your help to combat these lies — because when our democracy or science are brought into question, our work to stabilize the climate, protect human health, and move our country forward is all put at risk.

This guide will teach you how to spot misinformation in your feeds. Then, we'll give you step-by-step instructions to get social networks to take notice — and take it down.

How to identify misinformation

How to identify misinformation

1) Questions to ask when evaluating a post

If something catches your eye that doesn't seem quite right, ask yourself these questions. And definitely run through this list before sharing content online:

  • Do you recognize the source? Does it even reference one that you can easily find?
  • Does the information seem believable?
  • Is it written in the style you'd expect from a professional news organization?
  • Is the post written in a thoughtful, measured way and not in a way that provokes strong emotions, particularly anger or fear?

2) Websites to use to verify articles and social media posts.

If you answered no to any of the questions above, you should run a search on any of these sites to double-check the facts.

  • Climate Feedback is a worldwide network of scientists sorting fact from fiction in climate change media coverage.
  • PolitiFact is part of the nonprofit Poynter Institute, focused on politics.
  • Fact checker is run by the award-winning, fact-checking team at the Washington Post.
  • Snopes.com is one of the oldest and largest fact-checking sites online, covering anything and everything.
  • Lead Stories was co-founded by a registered Independent and a registered Republican and might be more trustworthy for conservatives.

3) Other tools, apps, and web extensions to help you verify content

These are some tools that can give you near-instant feedback, or help you do some additional digging.

  • Newsguard is a browser extension and app that tells you if a site is reliable as you browse online news. (This does cost a small amount of money.)
  • Bot Sentinel and Botometer will tell you if a Twitter account is a bot.
  • Hoaxy is a tool that visualizes the spread of articles online.
  • Google reverse image search (beginner) and Metadata2Go.com (advanced) show you the history of an image and how it has been used.
  • InVID (advanced) is an app that helps you check the reliability and accuracy of video files on social media.

Reporting misinformation on Facebook

Reporting misinformation on Facebook

1) A visual demonstration of the process

2) Step-by-step instructions to walk you through it

  • a) Click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the post.
  • b) Click on "Report post" at the bottom of the list that appears.
  • c) Choose "False information" and then whatever category you think the post falls under. (Choose "Something else" if you don't know.)

Reporting misinformation on Twitter

Reporting misinformation on Twitter

1) A visual demonstration of the process

2) Step-by-step instructions to walk you through it

  • a) Click on the arrow in the upper right-hand corner of the tweet.
  • b) Click on "Report Tweet" at the bottom of the list.
  • c) Choose "It's misleading" and then follow the prompts to identify the type of misinformation it is you are reporting.

Reporting misinformation on YouTube

Reporting misinformation on YouTube

1) A visual demonstration of the process

2) Step-by-step instructions to walk you through it

  • a) Click on the three dots in the bottom right hand corner below the video, next to the "thumbs up" / "thumbs down" icons and the share function.
  • b) Click on "Report" at the top of the list that appears.
  • c) There's no "misinformation" reason so choose "Spam or misleading," then "Scams or fraud" in the drop-down list. Click "Next" at the bottom right hand corner.
  • d) Here, you can ask YouTube to do more to combat climate misinformation. Here's suggested text you can use:

    "Please detox your algorithm and add climate misinformation to your borderline content policy, and correct the record by working with independent fact-checkers to inform users who have seen or interacted with this video."

Sharing

The Misinformation Brigade has grown into a powerful and informed group that is helping to combat the dangerous lies that get in the way of real progress. Join us and make us stronger by inviting your friends and family.