Who ensures the integrity of the information? – 03/28/2024 – Education

Who ensures the integrity of the information?  – 03/28/2024 – Education


Never before in the history of humanity has information been produced, consumed and shared at such a frenetic pace as now. In 2023, every minute, around 41.6 million messages were sent via WhatsApp, 4 million posts were liked on Facebook, 6.3 million searches were made on Google and 360 thousand posts appeared on X (formerly Twitter) , among many other activities that have been expanding the information environment in which we are immersed.

The numbers are part of a famous infographic produced annually by the analysis tool Domo, called Data Never Sleeps (data never sleeps, in the Portuguese translation). More than revealing the overabundance of content that we are exposed to at all times, such indicators are a warning about the need to carefully evaluate so much information and establish reliability filters.

Professionally, information checking agencies do this work. It is a branch of journalism that has grown in recent years, mainly when analyzing and classifying data released by public figures, such as political authorities. With such a high volume of content available, however, the task of verifying the integrity of information cannot be restricted to these agents — we all need to take part of the responsibility and practice a more critical “reading” of messages on a daily basis, data, videos and audios.

Next Tuesday (2) another edition of International Fact Checking Day will be celebrated, an initiative by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) with fact-checking organizations from around the world. The date is an invitation — and a reminder — for all citizens to ensure the integrity of the information they receive and share. The group promotes the idea that shedding light on facts should not be the exclusive responsibility of journalists, “but rather a collective effort that involves public participation and all sectors of society” to ensure a healthy, fact-based information ecosystem.

Faced with the unprecedented volume of content available, we need to assume the role of curators of our own experience in the information universe. We have left behind the era of communication in which a few broadcasters, such as newspapers and radio and TV networks, exercised almost exclusively the power to select and publish what happened. Today, this capacity is potentially diluted among all those with internet access (in Brazil, the number of households in this condition reached 84%, according to the TIC Domicílios 2023 survey).

If the information is produced by an infinite number of authors, it is also necessary to consider that there are an infinite number of intentions: reporting a fact, misinforming, convincing about an idea, selling a product, entertaining, etc. Some practical tips can encourage more critical consumption of so much content:

  • Develop the habit of interrogating information, asking what its origin (or source) is and the purpose you hope to achieve with that message. Assessing who benefits and who is harmed by the content is also an interesting way to give context to messages;
  • If the message provokes an exaggerated reaction (anger at the attack on someone you know or euphoria for supposedly winning a prize, for example), stop to reflect before reposting or interacting with that content. Activating our emotions is precisely one of the strategies of disinformation;
  • Remember that the source of information is not necessarily the person who shared it with you. The fact that a close friend or family member reposts some content is not a guarantee of veracity;
  • Ask yourself if the information received has evidence, that is, does it provide enough data to show that it is feasible or does it provide elements for you to look for other details;
  • If you receive a message reporting an extraordinary event (about a wave of thousands of immigrants arriving in the country, for example), see if established journalistic outlets are reporting the news.

In addition to taking a more critical look at the content itself, it is important to understand the gears that allow information to circulate. Internet search tools, for example, rely on recommendation algorithms that select which materials will be presented and prioritized in a list of results.

Artificial intelligence applications are (even further) transforming this scenario, increasing its complexity. Ensuring the integrity of information will be more necessary than ever.


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