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Navigating Online News and Information (NONI)

Slow Down and Exercise Restraint: Should I Click On or Share This?

We know from research that false information and fake news travels faster and wider than true information and real news. What's more, the same study also found that humans (not automated social media accounts called 'bots') are the main spreaders of this viral misinformation. What this research tells us is that each of us has a role to play in stopping the spread of mis/disinformation. How do we do that?

Slow Down

This one seems simple: just slow down before you click on something that grabs your attention with a headline or an image, or slow down before you share a news story that you haven't actually read. It's worth the few seconds to reflect briefly and ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • Do I know what I'm clicking on/sharing?
  • Why am I clicking on/sharing this?
  • Are there other sources of information that are more credible than this thing I'm clicking on/sharing that I should click on/share instead?

Exercise Restraint

"Click restraint" refers to the ability to restrain yourself from clicking on the very first results you get from a search engine (e.g. Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo). Instead, you might scroll down the search results to find the best one for you. This idea of exercising restraint with search results points us to a broader set of habits regarding navigating information online. We can exercise restraint in many situations, such as when we encounter "clickbait" content, or find ourselves about to share an incendiary headline or meme, or "liking" abusive or problematic content that will then be amplified within a social network by virtue of the "recommendation engine" algorithms that govern our social media feeds.

Learn more from Crash Course: Navigating Digital Information with John Green


Resources for Slowing Down and Exercising Restraint