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

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — With a world of information at your fingertips, like with the war between Russia and Ukraine, knowing how to spot misinformation online is crucial.

Jeremy Blackburn, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at Binghamton University, spoke to 12 News about his power over current events.

“The reality of the situation is that a lot of, I guess, modern warfare involves the information ecosystem. Obviously it does modern geopolitical things,” he said. If you paid attention to Twitter and social media, you even saw the Ukrainian government posting statements on social media and being very active on social media.

Following that social media presence, Blackburn said it meant a lot of help from the world.

More broadly, with all of this and more content in your hands, the assistant professor says that one of the best ways to identify whether something is legit or not is to examine the sources.

He shared some of his red flags with 12 News.

“If it’s a random site that you’ve never heard of before, if it doesn’t have a TV channel, that’s a pretty good indication. You know, something is from someone’s blog or it’s unattributed or unsourced. That sort of thing,” Blackburn said.

He said to seek data or facts from your usual sources that somehow agree.

“If you can get all three major mainstream sources saying the same thing, it’s probably safe,” Blackburn said. “The details may turn out differently, but the facts on the matter are probably even.”

Away from television, he calls himself a critic of citizen journalism.

“It’s also easy to handle. And you can’t really put a source on it because you’re seeing it live. It has not yet been approved by legitimate journalists who have a journalistic practice and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “You can have content from several years ago and be presented as current content.”

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

Amanda J. Marsh