How to deal with disinformation on social media before election day

"It can suppress voting, and that can erode the integrity of the American democracy," Leader Ethics Wisconsin executive director Lee Rasch says

(WKBT) – It’s important that you are well-informed of the political atmosphere before you go out and vote on Nov. 3.

But in today’s social media climate, a lot of info — liberal or conservative — may contain disinformation.

“The whole social media industry is based on trying to gather your data,” Leader Ethics Wisconsin executive director Lee Rasch said.

A lot of the information we like and share is truthful and might be interesting. Even though some information might seem real, sometimes it can be the opposite.

“The disinformation is really designed to try to mislead intentionally,” Rasch said.

Disinformation could ultimately be harmful.

“It can suppress voting, and that can erode the integrity of the American democracy,” Rasch said. “It can really contribute to the political division of America.”

In a 2019 report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Russia interfered in the 2016 election by spreading false information on social media. About 31 million Americans shared that info, with much of it supporting President Trump.

“It could very well have contributed to voter suppression, particularly with minority populations,” Rasch said.

So to make sure this doesn’t happen to you, Rasch has some tips before you head out to the polls:

Do not share posts that claim their telling the truth, has an opinion, asks to prove a negative, has a list of questions, intends for you to answer the questions, or claims a plot by someone without proof. It’s also a good idea to fact-check your sources using websites AllSides and MediaBias/FactCheck.

“They’ll give you a quick way of checking on a post to see if it’s legitimate or questionable,” Rasch said.

Rasch says social media companies have been taking steps to prevent more disinformation.

“They have blocked ads from some sources,” Rasch said.

But disinformation can still happen, so to make sure you’re not a part of the problem, be careful on what you post.

“Digest the information that you see, but don’t share anything that’s questionable,” Rasch said.

Leader Ethics also has a tip line if you think you see disinformation. For more, just visit this link.