One Big Thing: Violence at the Capitol and the Weaponization of Misinformation
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Last week, violent insurgents, supporting President Trump, stormed the U.S. Capitol building in an attempt to interfere with Congress’s official counting of the electoral college votes. This unprecedented clash was largely spurred by an extended campaign of misinformation which claimed that the result of the presidential election was fraudulent. Freedom of speech and access to information are fundamental rights of Americans and can be a driver of powerful positive social change, but the events that took place in the Capitol demonstrate how easily misinformation can be weaponized and used to coerce people to take extreme and deadly measures into their own hands.
Today, everyone has instant access to almost unlimited news and sources of information, creating an environment where real news competes with misinformation. This trend needs to be reversed. This starts with rebuilding trust in the media by reinvigorating local news sources which can address the homegrown issues directly affecting people and emphasizing the need to diversify news/information sources. It is more important than ever for each citizen to be able to recognize misinformation when they come across it in their own lives so what happened in the Capitol never happens again. Leadership across the country – political, religious, celebrities, influencers and others in prominent positions – also have a responsibility to promote a more civil discourse, no matter their opinion. To this end, The We Hold These Truths campaign will begin to address issues of misinformation, local journalism and media trust as a core component of our work in 2021.
For more, make sure check out some ways you can recognize misinformation. As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments.
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