How to spot misinformation when it comes to online articles, social media

This is a recurring recording of WBNG's 11pm Newscast.
Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 10:37 PM EST
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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- With a world of information at our fingertips, such as with the war between Russia and Ukraine, it’s crucial to know how to spot misinformation online.

Binghamton University Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Jeremy Blackburn, talked with 12 News about its power relating to current events.

“The reality of the situation is that a lot, I guess, modern warfare involves the information ecosystem. Clearly, it does modern geopolitical things,” he said. If you’ve been paying attention on Twitter and social media, you’ve even seen the Ukrainian government putting out social media statements and being very active on social media.”

As a result of that social media presence, Blackburn said its involved a lot of help from the world.

More broadly, with all this and more content right in your hand, the assistant professor says one of the biggest ways to identify if something is legitimate or not is to examine the sources.

He shared some of his red flags with 12 News.

“If it’s some random site you haven’t heard before, if it doesn’t have a TV channel, that’s a pretty good indication. You know, something is coming from somebody’s blog or it’s unattributed or unsourced. That type of thing,” said Blackburn.

He said to look for data or facts from your usual sources that are in some sort of agreement.

“If you can get all three of the major, mainstream sources saying the same thing, it’s probably safe,” said Blackburn. “Details may spin different, but the facts on the matter are probably on par.”

When away from the television, he said to be critical of citizen journalism.

“It’s also easily manipulated. And you can’t really place a source on that as you’re seeing it live. It hasn’t yet been vetted by legitimate journalists that have journalistic practice and all this kind of stuff,” he said. “You can have content that’s from several years ago and be portrayed as being from current stuff.”

When investing time in a source, the assistant professor advised everyone to slow down and to not be taken advantage of.