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How to Stop Misinformation From Spreading

This section provides resources in relation to combating misinformation and cultural biases not only for others but oneself as well. These resources are provided to aid those who may be unsure of where or how to start combating or unlearning misinformation biases. (More will be added over time)

  • Propaganda Definition:

    • Smith, B. Lannes (Invalid Date). propaganda. Encyclopedia Britannica.

    • "Propaganda is the more or less systematic effort to manipulate other people’s beliefs, attitudes, or actions by means of symbols (words, gestures, banners, monuments, music, clothing, insignia, hairstyles, designs on coins and postage stamps, and so forth). Deliberateness and a relatively heavy emphasis on manipulation distinguish propaganda from casual conversation or the free and easy exchange of ideas. Propagandists have a specified goal or set of goals. To achieve these, they deliberately select facts, arguments, and displays of symbols and present them in ways they think will have the most effect. To maximize effect, they may omit or distort pertinent facts or simply lie, and they may try to divert the attention of the reactors (the people they are trying to sway) from everything but their own propaganda."

  • Disinformation: "misinformation that is deliberately disseminated to mislead." [Intentionaly untruthful]

  • Misinformation: "False information that is disseminated, regardless of intent to mislead." [Can be unintentional]

-The Debunking Handbook (2020)

(e.g.): A person who makes a false accusation to deliberately harm another's reputation is spreading disinformation. A person reacting to this false accusation by spreading it without question is spreading misinformation.

  • Trashing: (

    • “What is "trashing," this colloquial term that expresses so much, yet explains so little? It is not disagreement; it is not conflict; it is not opposition. These are perfectly ordinary phenomena which, when engaged in mutually, honestly, and not excessively, are necessary to keep an organism or organization healthy and active. Trashing is a particularly vicious form of character assassination... It is manipulative, dishonest, and excessive. It is occasionally disguised by the rhetoric of honest conflict, or covered up by denying that any disapproval exists at all. But it is not done to expose disagreements or resolve differences. It is done to disparage and destroy.”

    • "The trasher may give you false reports of what (horrible things) others think of you; tell your friends false stories of what you think of them; interpret whatever you say or do in the most negative light; project unrealistic expectations on you so that when you fail to meet them, you become a "legitimate" target for anger; deny your perceptions of reality; or pretend you don't exist at all."

    • “Instead of trying to prove one is better than anyone else, one proves someone else is worse. This can provide the same sense of superiority that traditional competition does, but without the risks involved. At best the object of one's ire is put to public shame, at worst one's own position is safe within the shrouds of righteous indignation”

When you see misinformation, say something. The only way to stop it is to challenge it. Above all, however, always prioritize your mental and emotional health.

Before Engaging, Know Who You're Talking to:

  • Was this account recently created?

    • Is it almost empty?

    • Is their only activity arguing with other users?

    • If so, it's likely a burner or troll account.

  • Do they follow other users or groups known to have extremist views?

  • Do they like and share posts that are incendiary?

  • Do they enjoy upsetting others?

While it's important to challenge such people who spread disinformation, looking for these signs can save you time. You can still counter their disinformation, but don't allow yourself to be aggravated by people who behave maliciously on purpose for attention.



"Six “degrees of manipulation”—impersonation, conspiracy, emotion, polarization, discrediting, and trolling—are used to spread misinformation and disinformation, according to Sander van der Linden, PhD, a professor of social psychology in society at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom." -(Abrams, 2021)

For example, a false story may use incendiary and emotional language, while proposing an unverified accusation or a conspiracy theory to manipulate readers. (Such as how anti-trans groups often use terms relating to body mutilation and sexual predation in connection to children to affect how trans people and transitioning are viewed).

The Nature of Hate by Robert Sternberg is an excellent introduction into how hate narratives can propagate.

Understand that you're not immune to misinformation. Knowing how hate groups influence others and spread their information is important. Understanding their methods can keep you and others from being sucked into false narratives. Examine such groups from within so you can know the signs. Learn their 'Dogwhistle' terms and phrases so you can notice them amongst those who wish to remain hidden and innocuous in public spaces.

The following are examples from Anti-trans & Radfem sources:


Important Key Steps (SIFT):

  • STOP:

    • "Ask yourself whether you know the website or source of the information, and what the reputation of both the claim and the website is. If you don’t have that information... Don’t ... share media until you know what it is." -The Sift Method

  • Investigate the Sources:

    • "Knowing the expertise and agenda of the source is crucial to your interpretation of what they say." -The Sift Method

    • Is this source a random person or an unverified burner account?

    • On social media do they follow other people or groups that are known to have extremist views?

    • Do they appear to like or share posts that are incendiary?

    • Is this source making heavy statements as if they're factual with no verifiable academic or scientific sources?

  • Find Better Coverage:

    • "go out and find the best source you can on this topic, or, just as importantly, to scan multiple sources and see what the expert consensus seems to be." -The Sift Method

    • Consider other points of view.

    • Example: If a random person is making incendiary claims about Fujoshi, you would search for more reliable sources such as:

      • Academic sources

      • Published Books by field experts

      • People from that culture (i.e. Native Japanese speakers)

  • Trace Claims to the Original Context:

    • "Much of what we find on the internet has been stripped of context. Maybe there’s a video of a fight between two people with Person A as the aggressor. But what happened before that? What was clipped out of the video and what stayed in?" -The Sift Method

    • Understand the original context. For example, many antis make claims that certain users are sexual predators, but the context stripped from these statements is that they are discussing people's fictional interests as if they are real. Overhearing such claims one may assume a person to be a criminal who harmed real people directly when that is often not the case. This often leads to dogpiling and harassment as these claims and rumors expand.

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