Jennie Ridyard
2 minute read
11 Apr 2022
7:30 am

Let’s all get our truth boots on

Jennie Ridyard

With its speeding stream of facts, counter-facts, clickbait and bias confirmation, it’s hard to know what truth is anymore.

Picture: iStock

A little bit of misinformation goes a long way, or, as someone once said, “a lie is halfway around the world before the truth even has its boots on.” I think it was Mark Twain, or Gandhi. Or maybe Nelson Mandela.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter because it fits my narrative right now, and that’s what counts in these Fake News days. Also, it happens to be true.

A week ago – fittingly, the day after April Fool’s Days – it was International Fact-Checking Day, which has been a thing since 2014, or so says the fact-checking website Snopes.

Verifying your sources is ever more important as the war in Ukraine rages on, and the parallel cyberwar boils over, too.

However, it is telling that Russia has shut down much of the social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – and dissenting news sources as well, while cracking down harder than ever on protests and political opposition in an effort to maintain its narrative.

If you don’t like what you see? Call it fake, call it staged, call it lies, shut it down. It works for Putin… But in the 24-hour news cycle, with its speeding stream of facts, counter-facts, clickbait and bias confirmation, and when every opinion – however ill-qualified – holds equal weight on the internet, it’s hard to know what truth is anymore.

My first rule of thumb? If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Dig deeper. Use the International Fact-Checking Network, FactCheck.org (and its subsidiary, SciCheck), Snopes, Africa Check, The Washington Post’s online fact-checker, Media Bias/Fact Check, Full Fact, PolitiFact or an- other credible verifying resource.

Google’s reverse image search also works. Be suspicious of inflammatory social media accounts. On Facebook, you can click the “page transparency” button to reveal things like any previous names of the page, and where its managers are operating from.

Avoid online accounts purportedly run by well-known people that aren’t blue-tick verified. Let’s all get our truth boots on. Incidentally, it was Jonathan Swift who, back in 1710, first uttered the “quote” I used earlier, or something like it. “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it,” he wrote, adding, “If a lie be believed only for an hour, it has done its work.” So true.