A: Be civil. Focus on finding common ground. Choose your battles: You have greatest influence with those you know offline. Don’t waste your time on trolls.
Good news: The science of science communication (yes, that’s a thing!) convincingly confirms that we all can help battle misinformation online. So what does the evidence say about the RIGHT way to go about doing so? Happily, the News Literacy Project has pulled together a terrific set of data-driven tips in their poster “How to speak up without starting a showdown” (link below). Here’s an abridged version, with a few Nerdy emojis to punch things up 🥰
From the News Literacy Project’s “How to speak up without starting a showdown”
✌️ BE CIVIL
Use an empathetic and respectful tone. Avoid being judgmental or simply telling someone they are wrong. If a person replies with aggressive or sarcastic language, don’t respond in kind.
🛑 TAKE YOUR TIME
Firing off a knee-jerk response might be tempting but pause and take a step back. Do your homework. Research the claim and find reputable fact-checking organizations or credible expert sources to share, which research shows is key to effectively correcting misinformation online.
💡 Remember! Two links are tougher to dismiss than one.
👐 FIND COMMON GROUND
Try putting yourself in your friend or loved one’s shoes. Why might they have posted this? Did they have good intentions? Consider pointing out shared concerns or feelings in your response.
💡 Remember! Misinformation exploits our beliefs and values to elicit an emotional reaction. But you can also focus on these underlying principles to establish your own good intentions in reaching out.
📊 LAY OUT THE FACTS
Rather than simply posting a link to a fact-check, clearly summarize the main findings of the debunk first, then add the link.
💡 Remember! Don’t let the conversation get derailed by unwarranted attacks on fact-checking organizations. Leading with the evidence and sharing links to more than one fact-check example can help you avoid being drawn into a fight about the organization itself.
❓ PUBLIC OR PRIVATE?
Decide how you want to post your response. Public comments can reach a bigger audience, but a private message may be more appropriate in some situations
💡 Tip! Even if you opt for a private message, you can still leave a comment calling the original post into question (e.g., “Hmm. I’m not sure about this one.”)
✔️ BE PATIENT….AND PERSISTENT
Research shows we’re more likely to believe fact-checks from people we know. View fact-checking as an ongoing debate rather than a fight to “win” at all costs. Even when someone seems unconvinced, calling out problematic content over time can plant a seed of doubt and prompt loved ones to work through important questions. While one corrective reply may not stop friends and relatives from sharing misinformation, consistently speaking up can help them think twice before sharing.
💡 Remember! Online trolls are not interested in honest debate. Don’t waste your time responding to their insults or chasing their moving goalposts. Be willing to walk away.
A final Nerdy note: We’re so grateful for our science-loving community! Thanks for your continued efforts to fight back against the #infodemic. We celebrate your efforts to #standupforscience.
Your Nerdy Girls
News Literacy Project (a *wonderful* organization with a treasure trove of resources)