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You are spending more and more time on social media. Whether you are 16 or 60, you are being targeted by these online lurkers feeding you misinformation and using you to spread it. You can stop the madness and still maintain your social media presence. Here are some tips. 

Apply the breaks! If you are sharing information that you cannot vouch for, and you cannot verify the person who sent it to you, do not immediately share it.  We are all in a heightened state of emotions about the state of the world, who should be president and what is going on with a pandemic. Even if you agree with the information presented, please take a minute to determine if you should share the meme, opinion, and what it will mean if you do. A better idea than sharing someone else’s idea or video is to make one of your own on your own experiences and share that. You can get your message out there in your own words. 

Check the source. This is not a process that is quick or easy, but it can save you from becoming a troll supporter or sharing misinformation. The fact-checking is essential because when you share or like something online, you are endorsing it. You need to be sure you are supporting the entity you think you are. To do that, you must fact check before sharing.

Some ways to fact check are:

  • If the source is a family member check their source
  • Look at how long the account has been open. There has been a surge lately of accounts with less than 200 followers, and this can be a sign of misinformation distribution.
  • If the person posting the message says who they are, you can google them to ensure that they are a reputable source.
  • Look at the account of the person posting. Check their recent posts and some older posts and see if they are consistent. 
  • Ask yourself what puts the posting person in a position to know about this topic. Is the source in the place it claims to have information about? 
  • If the source is a news site – does it have a website? Can you check it out? Can you make contact with it other than through the post?

Don’t trust memes! They are cute things, but the images and slogans spread like wildfire. The post does not have to be false to be dangerous. By getting you to share the disinformers are getting you to improve their standing.

Become your own investigator. Don’t just follow the link and the information trail it takes you down. Look across the internet independently in your own search to confirm the information. 

If you find misinformation, correct it! You can help yourself and other concerned citizens by sharing that the information was not accurate and assisting in putting out the correct information. Be careful when making corrections or other ideas. People do not like being corrected, and comments can be taken as attacks. Sprinkling a response with the truth can sometimes lead the poster to the accurate information without a fall out against you. 

When you are online, remember everything you do should be done with integrity and awareness of the possible consequences. Don’t feed or become the troll.

Mentor, OH Law Office

Moseman Law Office, LLC has been located in Mentor, Ohio since 2005. Our attorneys provide legal services in Lake County, Geauga County, Ashtabula County, and Cuyahoga County. We also offer legal services in the Ohio Federal Northern and Southern Districts and the United States Bankruptcy Court. Contact the firm today with your legal needs. We are ready to serve you with excellence.

Adapted from the Plain Dealer June 28, 2020 article on page B7.