Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Making Sense of Information

Washington, DC – We are bombarded with information through a myriad of communication channels daily from various sources. Sometimes it can be hard to determine fact from fiction. Deceptive information is on the rise, and the public must decide what is good and bad information.

While there are a few things we should pay attention to, to discern if we are reading misinformation or disinformation, we must first understand the difference between the two types.

According to The Union of Concerned Scientists, misinformation and disinformation are different. It is about the intent behind the spread of information. Misinformation is unknowingly sharing bad information. Disinformation is the willful attempt to spread bad or false information.

The United Nations has begun the #PledgetoPause Campaign to help the public make sense of the information ecosystem. This campaign asks before you share content on social media platforms to consider these points:

  • WHO made it?
  • WHAT is the source?
  • WHERE did it come from?
  • WHY are you sharing this?
  • WHEN was it published?

“The things we share online can spread like wildfire, and a small share can have big consequences,” according to the UN campaign’s website.

“Join us in our mission to tackle misinformation and encourage your followers across your social channels to take care before they share.”’

When reading information to determine if it is good or not, we must do some critical analysis. Some things to examine as we read are:

  • What is the emotion the writer is trying to elicit in you? Are they trying to stir up an emotion in you to get you to react to their point of view?
  • What is the logical approach they are taking to rationalize with the audience? Does it match your worldview based on one of the other two elements of emotion or ethics?
  • What ethical approach do they use to try and align their point with your set of values? Do they try to convince you of a point by appealing to your value set?

Balance your own critical analysis with the information you are reading before you share. It is essential to make sense of the information for yourself to stop misinformation and disinformation. 


Author profile
Sebastian G. Warren

Sebastian is a Senior Communication Practitioner with more than 23 years of multi-level experience in strategic communication planning, writing, public affairs, and leadership. He serves as the Chair of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Heritage Region.

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