Be a smart digital citizen

How a story is told depends on who tells it and what his agenda is!

In an era where...

  • Everyone has an opinion and is a broadcaster via blogging, tweeting, posting, re-distributing content...
  • Media are under pressure to sensationalise...
  • Marketers take liberties with photoshop...
  • Criminals scam, phish and cheat with fake information...
  • Rumours and disinformation thrive...

 

Obama and Osama...Real or Doctored?

Doctored photo supposedly showing Barack Obama in the company of Osama bin Laden (published during the heat of the US 2008 presidential elections campaign season).

[Source: Media Matters] Newsradio 850 KOA,
Retrieved from HistoryCommons.org

 

 

 

How do we know what is fact or just plain fiction?

It is always good practice to cross-check information to verify its authenticity before you take it as gospel truth or worse, passing it on thus perpetuating the myth.

Here are some tips on how you can verify information.

  • Who / Where - Who created or uploaded the information? Where is it hosted? Who is the publisher?

    Can you trust the author or originator of the information? Does it come from a credible or authoritative source? Can you see a potential conflict of interest? Did the author write well - professional news and information sources place much importance on the quality of their content.
  • When - When was the information created or published?

    Is the information up-to-date or outdated? Is the media product still relevant?
  • What - What is the agenda?

    Does the information offer more than one perspective or does it appear biased? Is it sensationalist or overly alarmist? Is there stereotyping, personal bias and propaganda? Are there embedded values and perceptions? Does it appeal to one's logic or to emotions? Is the information verifiable? Verify by cross-checking across multiple sources.

    If the information appears too good to be true (think scams!) - then it usually is too good to be true. If you think that the information that you are accessing could be rumours, think twice about sharing it with others. Why spread falsehoods?

    *While we think critically about the intent of the author, we should also be aware of our own biases or selective perception. Sometimes, we may tune out certain information, even if it is true, because we prefer to believe what we want to believe.
  • Why - Why are you surfing that website or reading that magazine?

    Think about your own biases - people tend to go to information sources that depict or are in line with their own beliefs and perceptions. To be objective, we should also seek out other sources of information.
  • Think!

    Always have an inquiring mind when consuming or seeking information, whether online or offline. Remember that all photographs, videos and texts can be manipulated and taken out of context to distort or influence perceptions. For parents, do drum into your children that it is good practice to verify and confirm the information with an adult or teacher if in doubt.