If you’ve ever been on social media, it is likely that you’ve come across disinformation posts—false or inaccurate information online deliberately intended to deceive. Disinformation is distinct from misinformation, which is inaccurate, but not intended to deceive. Disinformation and misinformation can, at first glance, seem fairly harmless, but if left unchecked, they have the ability to spread and perpetuate harmful narratives.
In the past few years, misinformation and disinformation on social media have risen to dangerous levels, undermining the integrity of elections and the acceptance of valid scientific research (including research on climate change, vaccine safety, gun control, and abortion outcomes). In order to preserve our democracy, it is imperative that we work proactively to combat the perpetuation of false information online.
How can we do this? Through Swing Blue Alliance, we already have an easy way to get involved and make a real difference: We can volunteer as social media monitors!
Throughout my internship with Swing Blue Alliance, I worked with the grassroots organization Civic Listening Corps to identify and report disinformation and misinformation on social media. Focusing on issues I’m passionate about, like reproductive rights and climate change, I scan Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds for any recent posts that seem misleading or problematic. Each tip that I send in to Civic Listening Corps gets added to the organization’s general database, and is then used to pinpoint frequent spreaders of misinformation as well as recurring flawed or biased narratives about high-profile issues, such as the overturning of Roe v. Wade, gun violence, and the January 6th hearings.
Swing Blue Alliance volunteers can assist social media monitoring groups, which need more volunteers. Whether you decide to join a scheduled volunteer shift or simply wish for the tools to report disinformation and misinformation if/when you happen to see it, formally taking note of false information online will have a positive effect. Civic Listening Corps accommodates volunteers with varying levels of interest and availability.
Juliana Swartz volunteered with Swing Blue Alliance as a Summer 2022 Intern. Learn more about our internships here: Internship Opportunities – Swing Blue Alliance