By Alex Lama, Commissioner
(Tuesday, September 5, 2023) – When the internet went mainstream in the mid-1990s and the flow of information started to proliferate, the thought was that these new sources of information would empower people to have more data and be better equipped to know the truth. It was an exciting time and felt liberating. The underlying thought was that we no longer had to rely on a handful of sources for our information. People finally had control over the institutional entities and bad actors that tried to hide the truth or mislead the public.
Fast forward to 2023, and we are now grappling with the issue of disinformation. Disinformation pervades our lives, from product reviews and medical information to news and politics. We no longer know what to believe, or even worse, we believe information that is false. A lot of the same actors who we thought could no longer fool us or keep us from the truth now exploit digital media to keep us confused, manipulating narratives for their own agendas – agendas that do not have your best interest in mind.
As Mark Twain stated, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”
None of us like to be fooled or manipulated for the benefit of someone’s personal and ill-intentioned agenda. We need to be cognizant and question what we read, hear, and watch. Here are a few tips on how to spot what is real and what is fake:
- Have a critical mindset: Question if the information is accurate and if it makes sense to you.
- Check the source: See if the entity or person providing the information is reputable and free of any controversies and issues.
- Verify the info: Talk to other people and experts to verify the information and question if it makes sense to them.
- Use common sense: If the information presented is full of hyperbole and plays into your fears, it needs to be questioned.
Working in advertising has made me apprehensive about people presenting information, especially political in nature, in a way that looks like the marketing campaign of a product. When you see this, it is most likely a marketing campaign – and the product being pushed is their own selfish agenda disguised as a benefit to the public.