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Oct 18

Identifying and Reporting False Information

Posted on October 18, 2023 at 4:57 PM by Rob Watson

Information is a powerful thing. It forms and guides your decisions. Unfortunately, some people want to misuse information to alter the narrative or to convince you of falsehoods. Those who wish to disrupt the election process, including lies about the voting process and election workers, seek to dissuade your trust in our elections.

It (misinformation) menaces election officials, with 64 percent reporting in 2022 that the spread of false information has made their jobs more dangerous. It interferes with voters’ ability to understand and participate in political processes.

In this article, we’ll help you understand two types of false information, misinformation and disinformation, how to spot it, and what to do if you come across it.

What are Disinformation and Misinformation?

While closely related, these are two different types of bad information. The main difference between them is the intent of their use. According to the National Democratic Institute, “disinformation is when false information is shared to cause harm. Misinformation is when false information is shared, but no harm is meant.”

How Can I Spot False Information?

There are eight main tools you can use to spot misinformation and disinformation.

  1. Consider the source – Investigate the site, its mission, and contact information
  2. Read beyond – Read beyond headlines. Sometimes they’re extreme to get clicks. What does the story say?
  3. Check the author – Search for the author. Are they credible? Are they a real person in a position to have the information they’re reporting?
  4. Supporting Sources – Check links and determine if the information presented is supported by sources listed in the story.
  5. Check the date – Sometimes old news stories aren’t relevant to current events. When was the story published?
  6. Is it a joke? – If the news seems too wild, it could be satire.
  7. Check your bias – Consider how your own beliefs could impact your perspective and judgment
  8. Ask the experts – Ask a librarian, or consult a fact-checking site.

What Should You Do if You Spot False Information?

Contact your election authority or the Illinois State Board of Elections. Your election authority is the authority on elections in your jurisdiction. McLean County strives to be open and transparent with our voters. Include context and screenshots of the information in question. Report information, including where you saw the source and a link if possible. You can report misinformation or disinformation by: