Spotting misinformation about the Ukraine War through social media

Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 4:02 PM PST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Images coming out of Ukraine show war, and evacuations out of Ukraine as the Russian Army approaches. Keep in mind there’s plenty of disinformation out there.

But in times of war, that’s not unusual.

“Disinformation is used to create fear and panic,” says Assistant Professor Paromita Pain with the Reynolds School of Journalism at UNR. “Disinformation is always not created with a wicked aim at creating confusion. Disinformation often uses very correct information in a way that puts it in a context that is not correct,” she says.

Put that disinformation in a Tweet or Facebook post and it leads to misinformation which spreads from person to person. Professor Pain says it spreads even faster when there is no fact checking.

How does one prevent it from happening?

“Look at the media from where you are getting that information,” says Professor Pain. Credible sources will have done the background work, much like the receiver of the information is being asked to do.

Pictures too can be verified. While there are apps that can do the work, Professor Pain says some of those could have malware in them.

She prefers instead to use Google’s Reverse Image Search. It can verify the pictures authenticity as well as if it has been altered. Professor Pain says taking measures like these, in these times, are particularly important when an article or picture really throws one for a loop.

Take a breath, she says, even if the first instinct is to share it.

I was surprised UNR directed me to Professor Pain for this topic, instead believing I’d be in the computer science engineering department.

But keep in mind, UNR was one of the earliest colleges or universities in the country to offer cybersecurity classes for journalists.

Professor Pain says her cybersecurity classes are so popular with students at the Reynolds School of Journalism, those same students often bring family and friends to learn more.

Copyright 2022 KOLO. All rights reserved.