FBI Urges Americans To Only Share Confirmed And Verified News On Social Media
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A warning from the FBI for you, at home, right now. The agency wants you to ask yourself one thing the next time you share information on social media, or even in conversation: Did I confirm this is accurate and verified?
“We always say that if propaganda isn’t spread, it doesn’t work, ” says FBI Supervisory Special Agent Greg Klein. He, like the rest of the intelligence community, says Russia and China are two of America’s biggest threats. Klein says, “Russia is attacking our democracy. China is attacking our economy.”
Why? To disrupt. To change how we think. To turn us against each other and to make us distrust our democratic processes. How? Social media is a biggie. They use made up information, deepfake videos, and more. FBI Director Chris Wray says, “We face today a very real threat from foes who seek to undermine our elections through online foreign influence operations.”
Disinfo campaigns, both online and on the ground, are not new, but they’ve ramped up in the past six years or so. In a 2018 federal indictment, Charlotte is listed as one of the locations where Russians staged a fake anti-Trump rally in November 2016.
“They learn the culture of the U.S., they know by state what the issues are, what people care about,” explains Theresa Payton. Payton is a former White House Chief Information Officer and author of a book about foreign and domestic disinformation campaigns called Manipulated. She is talking about people online who find you and friend you, all while seeming very, very real. Payton says, “We need international treaties to say, ‘this will not stand, you cannot meddle in other elections with misinformation campaigns.'”
But until then, it’s up to us, all of us, to protect ourselves and America. And there is something you can do before you share anything on social media: triple source it. Confirm a trusted local news outlet is reporting it. Confirm a trusted national news outlet is reporting it. And confirm an international news outlet is reporting it. If you can’t find the story locally, nationally or internationally, don’t share it.
Payton says, “Be an informed voter versus an impulsive voter.”
We surveyed 210 people on Twitter and asked them if they fact-check or source articles before they share them on their social media pages. 80.5% said “Yes.” 7.6% said “No, and I don’t care to.” And 11.9% said “I know I should, but I don’t.”